Sweet Corn Crop Looking Good

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SweetcorninsMuch like real estate, the condition of this year’s sweet corn crop seems to come down to location, location, location.

Illinois’ sweet corn crop overall seems to have fared well this year, thanks to ideal weather conditions in parts of Illinois -– especially central Illinois.

David Brown of Brown’s Fresh Produce in Bloomington described his sweet corn yields as “excellent.” He attributed the corn’s good quality largely to the weather.

“It couldn’t get any better,” he said. “A little cool start there early in the season, but the rains have been wonderful,” Brown said. “We’ve been fortunate not to have any severe storms, which can be a problem with sweet corn. It’s just a very good year.”

Picking began around the middle of July, just a little earlier than usual. Brown and his wife, Kathy, sell sweet corn at their retail market, 304 Brown St., Bloomington, seven days a week. The corn also can be purchased on Thursdays in the parking lot of the Illinois Farm Bureau building and on Saturdays at the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market.

In Effingham, sweet corn yields have been pretty good, but Mark Schottman said he noticed some pollination issues.

“We haven’t caught quite the rain that you guys have,” he said. “But overall, not too bad. What does it take to produce good sweet corn? Good weather and a little bit of luck, he said. “Little more intensity than field corn,” he said. “You’ve got to kind of watch it a little more. Timing is a little more critical, especially on harvesting it.”

Schottman said he started picking around the Fourth of July –- earlier than last year, but 10 days later than 2012. “You shoot for Fourth of July, in general,” he said.

Schottman planted 40 acres of sweet corn this year and expects yields to be about the same as previous years. He sells most of the corn at roadside stands in Effingham as well as Urbana’s farmers’ market.

Cliff Ingersoll, owner and production manager for Twin Garden Farms in northern Illinois, staggers sweet corn planting.

“Our first sweet corn was beautiful. Second planting is nice. As long as we can get a shower or rain now, which we need – we haven’t had any for a couple weeks --- I think we’re going to be in really good shape,” he said last week. The cooler weather, he said, brings fewer bugs, but makes ripening difficult.

“These 50-degree nights, the corn doesn’t do much,” he said. “You need 80 during the day or 85, and 70-degree nights.” He started picking sweet corn in the last couple of weeks and expects yields this year to be about average.

Ingersoll sells Mirai corn (Japanese for “taste of the future”) mostly at farmers’ markets in the Chicago area. In all, it’s sold in about 50 different locations, he said.

Regardless of their location, Brown, Ingersoll and Schottman all agree on the best way to cook sweet corn: Boil it.

Story content provided by FarmWeek - Deana Stroisch

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