How many ears on a corn stalk?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How many ears on a corn stalk?”, discuss answers to other related questions like why does corn only produce one to two ears per stalk, and how can you estimate the corn yield.

How many ears on a corn stalk?

The simple and short answer to this question is that there is only one ear on a corn stalk. However, the number of ears per corn stalk varies and depends on certain factors.

Corn or maize is grass and like other grass species, it has the possibility of producing branches or tillers, stems that grow after the initial parent shoot grows from the seed. In the case of corn, the branch is called the shank which is a small stalk-like structure that grows out from a leaf node. Leaf nodes in the middle of the stalk have the potential of growing these shanks. It is from this shank that an ear of corn will grow.

Early maturing sweet corn will have one ear while those that mature later have 2 harvestable ears. Commercial corn growers only harvest the first ear because the size and quality of the second ear is considered to be inferior.

Field corn contains high amounts of starch and low sugars so fresh eating quality is poor and it generally has 1 to 2 ears. Field corn can cross with sweet corn, making some of the sweet corn kernels starchy and flavorless. Ear size is larger than sweet corn since field corn grows taller and for a longer time. 

Some specific selections of field corn produce 6 to 10 ears per plant. These varieties are specifically selected for the production of baby corn which is used in stirfry and salad bars.

Why does corn only produce one to two ears per stalk?

Cornstalk only produces one to two ears per stalk and the answer is justified by the concept of population density.

As we know, over the last half-century, farmers have been able to plant corn plants closer and closer together. This will lead to more total production and more bushels of corn per acre to be harvested. As the genes of plants interact with their environment the plant will respond. More light, water, and nutrients will produce more branching. In high-density populations, light does not get all the way down and so there is less branching. The plant can dedicate all of its resources to producing one really good ear of corn rather than wasting water and nutrients on producing multiple, less viable ears. 

The corn plant’s main goal in life is reproduction and it wants to give its seeds the best chance of survival. One ear of corn with 600-800 seeds is better than two ears with only 200-300 seeds.

Do corn stalks keep producing after the first harvest?

Peppers or tomatoes keep yielding all the summer but every corn stalk produces only one crop of maize. The stalk leftover standing on the farm is the waste remaining from the corn harvest. The stalk is then plowed back into the field and recycled or collected as bales for bedding and feeding. Leaving the remaining stalks restores the soil with much-needed organic matter. It acts as a cover crop during the brutal winter months to prevent soil erosion.

How many ears in a bushel of corn?

Bushel is a volume measurement for grain. It was not meant to be in terms of cubic feet but is currently considered to be about 1.25 cubic feet in volume.

An 8 inch (20.3 cm) ear of corn contains about 0.5 lb (0.23 kg) of corn grain, so approximately 112 ears of corn would equal one bushel. And one bushel of corn weighs 56 lb (25.4 kg). 

How many kernels on an ear of corn?

Corn kernels are the fruits of corn. One ear of corn contains approximately 800 kernels in 16 rows.

How can you estimate the corn yield?

The amount of corn produced in a field can be calculated by using the formula:

Corn yield (bushels) =Field size KPEEars1000 kernel size


Field size is the cultivated area expressed in acres;

KPE is is the kernels per ear in the 1/1000 acre sample; and

Ears is the number of ears of corn in the 1/1000 acre sample.

How long does ripe corn last on the stalk?

Sweet corn can be harvested as soon as it is ripe. If you don’t harvest it, it will keep producing starches and will no longer taste sweet. Therefore, it is recommended to harvest it at its peak ripeness.

Other FAQs about Corn that you may be interested in.

Do corn tortillas go bad

Where do grits come from?

Can you eat an overripe corn?


In this brief guide, we answered the question “How many ears on a corn stalk?”, discussed answers to other related questions like why does corn only produce one to two ears per stalk, and how can you estimate the corn yield.