What Are Corn Shoots & How to Grow Them in Just 6 Days

by Chenell | Last Updated: July 19, 2021
corn shoots

Have you ever wondered if you could grow corn from a single kernel? Well, you absolutely can and they turn into corn shoots, also called corn microgreens.

Corn shoots are corn plants that are harvested when they are about 3-4 inches tall. They have a variety of nutrients, have a pretty sweet flavor, and can be grown in just 6-7 days. They are healthy and delicious and perfect for the adventurous foodie.

They can be grown from corn kernels, which is so exciting because many people may already have corn kernels sitting around that they can use.

Flavor: Taste like sweet corn
Color: Yellow
Soak Seeds: 10-12 hours
Germination Time: 2-3 days
Days to Harvest: 6-7 days
Seed Density: 8-12 oz per 10×20 tray

Corn kernels are super tough as they are. So soaking them is going to be ideal to get the germination process started quickly. Soak corn kernels in glass of water for 10-12 hours, then plant them 1/16 inch into soil.

How to Grow Corn Shoots

Growing corn microgreens is pretty easy, but you will need a few supplies if you’ve never grown microgreens before.

What You’ll Need

corn kernels

Now that you have all of your items, let’s get started growing some delicious corn shoots!

Step 1: Soak corn seeds for 10-12 hours.

This will soften the corn kernels and make them easier to germinate, so you don’t have to wait the full 2-3 days.

Step 2: Rinse corn seeds thoroughly, then allow them to drain.

This removes any residual chemicals left on corn kernels from manufacturing or shipping.

Step 3: Prepare your shallow seed trays by adding 1 inch of soil or growing medium.

Place corn kernels in the soil you’re using, or another growing medium like peat moss or coco coir (available at garden centers). Add around 8-12 oz of seed to the tray.

Step 4: Setting up your environment

Heat Mat

Place tray under on a heating mat (setting the thermostat to 85 degrees).

Note: Once the seeds germinate and you see corn sprouts forming, remove the seeds from the heat immediately.

Light/Dark

For corn microgreens, you actually want to grow them completely in the dark. If not, they will turn green and be more rough and fibrous in texture vs soft and sweet.

You’ll want to get a cover to place on top of the microgreens. A cardboard box works if that’s an option.

Step 5: Keep the soil moist (not soaked) to allow seeds enough water to grow effectively.

I generally spray the tray every morning (with the lights off as to not introduce photosynthesis) with a spray bottle to more evenly disperse water and not scatter the seeds around.

Step 6: Harvest Your Corn Shoots

After your corn shoots are a few inches tall, it’s time to harvest them! As I mentioned above, corn microgreens are one of the fastest-growing microgreen varieties, so it will only take about 6-7 days from planting to get your harvest.

Harvest them by cutting corn shoots just above the soil line or soil surface with a harvesting knife. Be careful not to pull up by roots as this will drag soil along and can cause storage issues.

corn microgreens

Do not rinse your microgreens until you’re ready to use them.

Step 7: Use corn shoots right away or place corn microgreens in airtight jar or plastic bag and put them in the refrigerator. Again, do NOT rinse them if you are planning on storing them.

Step 8: Enjoy corn shoots as a delicious side dish or garnish! You can also add corn shoots to a stir fry or as an addition to tacos!

Growing corn shoots is easy — they are delicious and can be ready in just 6 days. So whether you buy corn from the store or grow corn at home, corn shoots are a great use of corn.

As always with corn, make sure it’s organic. A lot of corn is grown using GMO’s which are not my thing after doing some research.

Corn Shoots vs Microgreens

So what exactly is the difference between corn shoots and microgreens? Well, they’re basically the same thing. Microgreens refer to corn and other greens that are harvested at a very young age.

Corn shoots usually describe corn that is less than 10-14 days old, though some people use corn shoots to refer to corn that’s as much as 3 weeks old. But whatever you do, don’t wait too long to harvest corn microgreens, because corn shoots will become corn stalks and won’t taste good for eating.

Are Corn Shoots Edible?

Corn shoots are corn kernels before they grow into corn, but it takes a lot of corn kernels to make corn shoots! As mentioned above, corn is super tough and chewy. That’s because corn has very hard seeds that take a long time to germinate.

Soaking the corn overnight softens the corn kernels and makes corn shelling easier, but corn kernels will grow into corn even without soaking.

What do popcorn shoots taste like?

Corn shoots taste… corn-y. They’re a harder than corn on the cob (the corn you eat) but not as hard as corn kernels.

When to Harvest Corn Shoots

You can harvest your popcorn shoots after they’re 3-4 inches tall (about 7-10 days from planting). You can eat them before that, but this is the level you’ll want to harvest them at to get more of a yield.

You need to harvest corn shoots before the corn husk forms and the full grown plant begins to form, as they lose their taste and soft texture.

What Types of Corn Can You Grow Into Shoots?

You can grow most types of corn into corn shoots, but the most popular is sweet corn because it tastes amazing as a microgreen.

Corn shoots tend to be a little sweeter than corn on the cob, and are often slightly less starchy. You can grow corn microgreens from popcorn kernels as well, but you need to make sure they are untreated seeds. Otherwise they will be unlikely to germinate.

How Can You Use Corn Shoots

Growing microgreens can add a wide variety of garnishes and add-ons to any dish. Sweet corn shoots are no exception. These can be added to meat dishes, any salad with leafy greens, or fish.

Corn shoot microgreens are delicious and nutritious. They’re a great addition to any meal with corn or some cornbread!

In the corn family, corn shoots contain potassium, iron, fiber, and protein. These corn shoots are also a rich source of Vitamin C, with about 30% of your daily recommended value in just one cup.

Once you grow corn shoots, I hope you’ll try growing even more types of microgreens. Happy growing!

Chenell lived in a big city for 9 years and loved it. But ever since she was a little kid watching her grandfather raise cattle and pigs, she's always wanted to live on a farm. Once the pandemic hit, she bought a house with her partner on an acre and half of land and started planning a 50 foot by 50 foot garden....with no experience. This site is the place where you can follow along as this millennial tries to learn to grow her own food (and eventually make her own avocado toast).