International Produce Training

Sweet Corn- Auxiliary Ears

Were you wondering what the defect “Auxiliary Ears” is?  When inspecting sweet corn, either white, yellow, or bi-color corn, you may come across an ear of corn that has an extra ear attached. Many times these tag-alongs will not be fully developed ears, but will be smaller in size than the regular ears and the kernels will not be developed.

The USDA created a nice visual aid, clearly showing the different possibilities you may encounter, of two or more ears originating from the same shank.  What the USDA failed to explain was which one of these ears of corn would be a defect if you came across these in the course of your inspection.   Checking the USDA Inspection Instructions for Sweet Corn there are no scoring guidelines given……only stating the ear is scored as damage by an auxiliary ear when materially affecting  the appearance and would be considered as serious damage when multiple auxiliary ears seriously affect the appearance.  (Not much to go on.)

I think it is safe to say; using the above visual aid as a guide,

  • the ear on the left (auxiliary ear enclosed in the husk) would not be a defect,  
  • the middle ear would be scored as damage,  
  • and the ear on the right (multiple auxiliary ears) would be scored as serious damage.

Let me hear from you, if you agree or disagree with this guideline.

2 Comments on “Sweet Corn- Auxiliary Ears”

Anonymous Says:

Why would the USDA spend the time to make a visual aid and not even assign scoring criteria to it? What good does it do anyone?

Mike Hudson Says:

What is also missing is a definition of damage. I’d say the closer the aux ear is to the main ear, the more chance for damage by growing too near the main ear. Therefore, the left example would promote more damage than the center or right examples, where the aux ear is clearly separate from the main one.

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