Sweet Corn vs. Field Corn: What’s the Difference?

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field corn vs. sweet corn

Fresh corn on the cob is a summertime staple, but did you know most of the corn you see growing in Tennessee isn’t the kind you’ll find on your dinner plate this summer? In fact, sweet corn – the kind you buy fresh, frozen or canned at the supermarket – accounts for less than 1% of all corn produced in the U.S. Sweet corn has large, juicy kernels and a high natural sugar content that gives it the flavor we love.

Field corn, on the other hand, makes up the majority of corn produced in the country. It grows taller with thicker leaves and small dents in the kernels that give it the nickname “dent corn.” Due to its high-starch and low-sugar content, field corn isn’t good for cooking. It’s mostly used in livestock feed, ethanol production and food ingredients such as corn syrup, cornstarch and corn oil.

See more: Farm Facts: Sweet Corn


  1. Donna Long

    June 12, 2020 at 9:07 am

    Field corn is my favorite for cooking fried corn! Has a real corn taste, not just sugar. Corn on the cob, sweet is better, but fried field corn can’t be beat.

  2. Bonnie Dills

    July 25, 2020 at 11:36 am

    My family would be disappointed if we didn’t have old fashioned field corn for Thanksgiving. I put up some every year.

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