Sweet sweet corn

November 16, 2011

The Column

Volume 7, Issue 21

The increased value of fresh sweet corn over the last decade has led to an investigation into the characteristics that increase marketability.

The increased value of fresh sweet corn over the last decade has led to an investigation into the characteristics that increase marketability.1

To determine if there was an optimum phenotype or cultivar within a phenotype, sweetness was examined over three phenotypes, su, se and sh2, which were isolated to prevent cross-pollinization. Cultivars were grown on sandy loam soil and varying harvest dates of early, mature and late were arranged to determine the optimum harvest date for maximum flavour. High performance liquid chromatography was used to determine sucrose, fructose, glucose and total sugars content.

A panel was then set up to evaluate the sweetness of each phenotype and each harvest date, with the acceptability greatly correlating with the high performance liquid chromatography analysis for sucrose and total sugars (sweetness, R = 0.70 and 0.61; acceptability, R = 0.64 and 0.55). Sucrose correlated with the total sugars (R = 0.95). As the maturity of each harvest increased, the panel were able to identify differences in phenotypes more readily. They indicated no difference between se and sh2, though sucrose and total sugar levels were different between them. Sh2 was considered sweet and acceptable on all harvest dates, but su was only acceptable to the panel when it had been harvested earlier.

1. Teri A Hale et al., HortTechnology, 15(2), 313–317 (April–June 2005).

This story originally appeared in The Column. Click here to view that issue.