How to Save Corn (Zea Mays) Seeds

Seed Saving Guide #2707
Family: Poaceae
Binomial name: Zea Mays

Flower Type Monoecious (male and female flowers on the same plant), self-compatible
Pollination Wind pollinated
Isolation Distance 500m
Other Isolation Methods Cover tassels and silks with paper bags and hand pollinate flowers.
Population Required for Viable Seeds 10
Population Required to Maintain Variety 50-120
When to Harvest When husks dry and change colour from green to tan and kernels are hard.
How to Harvest

Pick ears by twisting them off the plant. Hang ears in mesh bags to dry until kernels are easy to remove from the cob. Remove husks then separate the kernels from the cob by hand or by using a corn sheller, taking care not to damage the kernels.

How to Clean

Screen or winnow to remove remaining stalks and chaff. If further cleaning is needed, roll seeds down a felt-lined ramp; the chaff will stick to the felt and the clean seeds can be collected at the bottom.

Image of Seeds Corn (Zea Mays)

What is Seed Saving?

Seed saving is the practice of collecting and storing mature seeds from open-pollinated plants. By allowing plants to reach full maturity and harvesting the seeds, they can be cleaned, dried, and stored for future use. 

  • To learn the techniques and methods needed to save seeds in your garden, we recommend reading our seed saving series.
  • To view a combined table of all our seed saving guides view our Seed Saving Chart.
  • To browse our seed saving guides individually click here.