Corn tassel is a byproduct from hybrid corn seed production. It is also a new source of phytochemicals, including compounds with antioxidant activity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the phytochemical content and antioxidant potential of different corn tassel development stages. A 4 × 8 factorial experiment consisting of four tassel development stages and eight commercial corn varieties was carried out with a randomized complete block design with three replications. Data were collected for tassel weight, concentration and yield of total phenolics, total anthocyanin concentration, total carotenoid concentration, and antioxidant activity, as determined by the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl(DPPH•
) radical scavenging assay and Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity(TEAC) assays. Corn varieties and tassel developmental stages showed significant variations (p
≤ 0.01) in all parameters. P4546 presented the best variety for the total phenolic content (15.8 mg GAE/g DW sample), whereas Hibrix3 had the highest phenolic yield (6.78 kg GAE/ha). KGW1, a purple waxy variety, had the highest anthocyanin content (1528.0 µg CGE/g DW sample), anthocyanin yield (753.0 g CGE/ha), carotenoid content (74.9 µg/g DW sample), and carotenoid yield (53.7 g/ha). P4546 had the highest antioxidant activity: 92.4% for DPPH•
and 76.1 µmol TE/g DW sample for the TEAC assay, respectively. The most appropriate time for tassel harvest to ensure the production of phytochemicals with high antioxidant activity should be from the 1st day of pollen shed until 50% of pollen shed. Phytochemicals and antioxidants that are extracted from corn tassel can be used as a functional food supplement, as natural pharmaceuticals, and in cosmetic products.
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