Baby Corn Farming and Cultivation guide

Baby corn Was one of the few interesting crops which I had to research. Very rarely consumed in Indian homes, Gaining popularity slowly but steadily, this crunchy vegetable is consumed mostly as stir-fried. Available fresh, canned, and frozen, the baby corn in the market today comes from a very concentrated set of farmers. Not everyone does baby corn cultivation in India. As a matter of fact, I don’t know anyone personally.

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Till the late ’90s, baby corn was imported from Thailand and cost approximately 4000 Rs a kilo. A few high-end restaurants used it in their cuisine and it was an exotic vegetable that was not an option for the masses. Today, 20 years later, things have changed. India is having a small market share in Baby corn production and export. Albeit small, the market for baby corn is ever-growing, making sure that most of the produce coming from Indian farmers mark supermarket stalls and even high-end restaurants today.

The price of baby corn has come down from 4000 to a meager 60 rs per kilo and farmers are getting a fair price for their produce.

Is Baby Corn Profitable

The Yield of baby corn per acre is 500-600 Kilos. That’s pure profit because the entire expense is covered by selling the fodder which approximates to around 150-200 quintals per acre. The labor, cost for setting the land, and all other expenses which include fertilizers and pesticides are covered in 20,000 rs if done carefully. The price of fodder alone should be able to cover the cost of cultivating baby corn. Even if the price of fodder drops, chances are only a bit of the profit from selling the baby corn will be used in the running expenses. 

Since baby corn is not seasonal, the prices will fluctuate. The price for baby corn is known to go as high as 160 rs per kilo and sometimes even more. Taking this into account, farmers are known to average a price of 100-120 rupees a year if baby corn cultivation is practiced throughout the year. 3 crops are normal for most farmers who focus on baby corn cultivation.

Even if the fodder is not sold at all, chances are that the fodder can be used for vermicompost which will reduce the cost of fertilizers in the next crop. Baby corn cultivation is completely free from wastage of any resources and once farmers start cultivating baby corn, they find it to be one of the best revenue-generating crops, year-round.

Baby Corn Farming & cultivation Profit Per acre

Expenses incurred in Baby corn cultivation per acre

Units Cost in rs 
Land Preparation1500
Seed20 kg2500
Sowing10 Women1500
Fertilizers and Manure3000
Irrigation3000
Weeding10 Women3000
Detasseling10 Women3000
Harvesting50 Women15000
Green Fodder harvesting4500
Total37,000

Baby corn cultivation may be very profitable but there are expenses involved with cultivating baby corn. The labor costs incurred are much higher than regular corn or other grain crops. 

While all other costs remain the same, the cost for detasseling and harvesting are higher. Weeding is practiced twice in the life of the crop and flood irrigation is normally the practice. Fertilizers are relatively moderate and comparable to normal grain crops and sometimes even lesser.

The key to baby corn cultivation and profit is the right variety. The right variety will determine the difference between profit and loss. A good variety will be pest resistant, high yield and the right type for the market. For export, the variety will be required to have the bab corn to be 4-9  centimeters long and 1-1.5 centimeters thick. Local food processors will accept ears that are as short as 3 centimeters and up to 11 centimeters depending on requirements and the price may vary. 

The yield is dependant on the variety. The VL42 is known to be the highest yielding baby corn variety at 1913 kg per hectare or 775 kg per hectare. Other varieties yield an average of 400-500 kilos per acre. 

Considering the average price of 120 Rs per kg, the gross profit per acre of baby corn cultivation can be estimated to be around 72,000 per acre or a net profit of 37000 per crop. If 3 crops of baby corn cultivation are practiced, the profits are estimated to be around 1,05,000 per year. While this may not look very huge, it to be understood that this is the profit after expenses and also, the income comes over a period of 3-4 months every year. Not many crops can give the yield or revenue in a regular manner for farmers like baby corn. 

Baby Corn Yield per acre and per plant

The varieties are key to the yield of baby corn. While the best variety can yield over 700 Kilos of baby corn per acre, varieties which are lower yields and different qualities will range from 400-500 KG per acre.  An average of 3-4 years of baby corn can be harvested per plant. With an average of 20 KG seeds per acre, with a variety like VL 42, the yield is 774 KG per acre. MEH 133 and MEH 144 are comparable to VL42 but slightly lower in yield at 706 and 696 kg per acre respectively.

Baby corn varieties are researched specifically to areas. While these numbers may indicate a good yield, they may not be the same in your area. Some varieties are better suited to some areas than others. It’s advised to check with someone locally, universities, and other farmers who are already cultivating baby corn to understand which variety is best suited. Choosing the wrong variety will result in failures and frustrations.

Why Baby Corn is so expensive

How is Baby Corn Cultivated

Baby corn is cultivated in almost the same ways as normal corn is cultivated, save the spacing per plant. While normal corn is spaced out, Baby corn is planted in a dense manner, allowing more plants per acre than you would accommodate normal corn plants. This allows higher yield. A higher density of normal corn is not possible and if practiced will result in lower quality corn cobs and the yield too will be much lesser. With baby corn, the corn ears are not allowed to mature which allows the corns plants to grow just enough to produce ears but not mature. 

Unlike normal corn cultivation, the process of detasseling is essential for baby corn production. This prevents the corn to pollinate and produce seeds. The process of detasseling is not practiced in normal corn cultivation and on the contrary, its entertained for better pollination and more yield. 

Baby corn plants grow up to 5 feet at the time of harvest. 2-3 pickings are practiced after which the fodder is harvested and the field prepared for the next crop.

Is baby corn the same as sweet corn?

Baby corn is immature corn of any variety but the variety commonly used for cultivating baby corn is specific. The yield of the corn variety used to cultivate baby corn is high yield. Though the sweet corn variety can also produce baby corn, the yield is much lesser and is not preferred. The common varieties of baby corn include VL-42, HAM-129, Golden Baby, CobC 1, Vivek Hybrid 27and HM4. Refer https://iimr.icar.gov.in/cultivars-2/ for more details on cultivars, varieties, and more.

Are baby corn Genetically modified?

Corn is genetically modified for high production, pest resistance, and more. In India, the import of GMO seeds has been prohibited for years. The corn in India is hybrid and results of cross-pollination. They are not GMO. when it comes to baby corn, the product is also not GMO as the same seeds are used for the cultivation of normal corn. These varieties are picked because of their high yield. Also, these corns are not suitable for common corn production because it does not result in larger cobs when in comparison to other varieties.

Baby Corn Growing Countries

Thailand exports 80% of the baby corn consumed in Europe. This is followed by China, Kenya, Zambia, and zimbabwe. India is slowly entering the market with more and more farmers moving towards baby corn cultivation. Though the production of baby corn India is steadily increasing, the stiff competition from Thailand and other countries poses a problem for India. Fortunately, the local consumption of baby corn in the Indian market too is increasing which enables farmers to sell their produce locally. 

Baby Corn Growing States in India

In India, Athena, Sonepat in Haryana is known to be the largest producer and seller of baby corn. Started by a farmer (Mr. Chouhan), today more than 5000 farmers are involved in baby corn cultivation creating a massive market for baby corn in Haryana. A cooperative for Baby corn producers ensure a fair price for their products and helps for marketing and sales of the produce. Today baby corn is sold at 160-170 rs per kilo in the market which is a lot less than the price if imported. It’s a win-win for both farmers and consumers