Sweet corn crosses readily with both field (dent) corn and popcorn if plants are grown near each other and shed pollen at the same time. However, field corn and popcorn cultivars usually shed their pollen later than sweet corn cultivars so crossing is uncommon.
When crossing does occur with field corn or popcorn, sweet corn kernels contain slightly more starch and less sugar—they are less sweet and less tender than normal. Mixed white and yellow kernels appear on sweet corn ears if white or yellow cultivars are crossed with the opposite color of field corn or popcorn.
Even when pollen is shed at the same time, little crossing occurs if field corn and popcorn are growing at least 50 feet away from sweet corn. Virtually no crossing will occur if they are grown more than 100 feet away.
Popcorn crossed with field corn or sweet corn pollen will dry more slowly because they have more sugar and soft starch. However, popping quality is not seriously affected.
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