Thinking About Sweet Corn

We had a successful opening day at the farmer’s market and we’ve been fortunate that our spring crops are turning out well.  And now, after another cold wet week, the weather has finally turned sunny and warm so it’s time to focus on getting our hot weather crops in the ground.

Sweet corn is one of the first things we’ll be planting once the ground is dry enough.  I try to get it planted as soon after April 20 as the soil permits.  So far that hasn’t happened yet, but this week looks promising.

We don’t grow sweet corn for market any more. There were two reasons we stopped growing it on that scale.

First, everyone and his uncle grows sweet corn around here it seems and there are farmers who push the envelope to have the first sweet corn of the year (to capture eager customers and the highest prices).  We always sold out, but I wondered whether we ought to devote our energy and space to other crops instead.

The second reason was the one that made up my mind.  For two years in a row we planted large gardens of corn, only to have them eaten and destroyed by raccoons.  One year we only harvested a couple of ears.  I could never devise a way to keep them out of the garden (and I tried everything I could think of). So I decided not to bother raising sweet corn as raccoon food any more.

So last year we only planted a few rows for ourselves, and I didn’t bother tending it much.  Naturally we ended up with a bumper crop of some of the best corn I’ve ever raised.  We froze lots of it and are still enjoying the goodness.

This year we’re going to continue only planting enough for ourselves. Hopefully we’ll end up without another great crop.

We plant the Silver Queen variety.  Around here sweet corn is Silver Queen, although some farmers plant higher-yielding, quicker-maturing white sweet corn and pass it off as Silver Queen.  I’m sure there are lots of other delicious varieties, but I’ve just never felt the urge to experiment.  As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

But as anxious as I am to get the sweet corn planted, it’s going to have to wait at least a few more days. Today we start shooting the videos for the video study that will accompany my book.  That will be a new experience for me. To be honest, I’d much rather be planting sweet corn.

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13 comments on “Thinking About Sweet Corn

  1. If all else fails you can buy sweetcorn from the other farmers. 😀
    Have a super day Bill.
    🙂 Mandy xo

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  2. Same thing with corn around here – everyone grows it, and the farmers vie with each other to be first to market with it. Two main varieties here – Peaches and Cream and Supersweet. When I look out my kitchen window, I can see the acres of row cover on the corn fields across the way, protecting early corn from frost, deer and geese. Come fall, the plants will be tall, and they’ll be shooting off an air gun sporadically through the early mornings and evenings in a vain attempt to scare off the deer and the geese. No one has ever mentioned raccoons as an issue for the farmed corn, but they must have an impact, since just about every local gardener complains of them. Good luck with your home garden corn – there is nothing quite like an ear of corn picked minutes before you cook and eat it.

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    • Bill says:

      Sweet corn is definitely an indispensable taste of summer. I guess that’s why there is so much demand for it. Hopefully we’ll have another great harvest. Meanwhile, we’re still working on last years crop. I had an ear of it with supper tonight. 🙂

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  3. avwalters says:

    I always liked Silver Queen. I stopped growing corn some years back, for the reasons you gave. I am contemplating a return to corn, though, now that GMO sweet corns are available, on the market, without labels. Hmmm. Maybe just enough so it feels like summer.

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  4. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, sweet corn is indeed a challenge. This year my plan is to get the six foot wooden fence finished and build a second fence inside the big fence with portable pallets covered in chicken wire. Raccoons are good climbers and diggers so I have a wait and see if it works kind of attitude. If that don’t work then I’ll have to go to electric fence which I’m not thrilled about. No electricity at Terra Nova Gardens means it would have to be all portable battery operated. The inner city is not a great place to have a nice battery setting around. I would have to build a concrete block secure battery holder and have to charge it up every few days. I’m hoping the double fence with be sufficient hold them out. We will see. The quest for a good home grown ear of corn continues. 🙂

    Have a great corn planting day.

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    • Bill says:

      Good luck Dave. I tried double fence and electric fence and they wiped me out anyway! I felt like land mines were the only thing that might work, but if used those they’d probably hang glide into the garden.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. smfarm says:

    Call us crazy, but we don’t really care for sweet corn that much. We did try growing some last year but it was a big space taker and didn’t amount to much. The pigs appreciated it, though. We buy a few ears locally to enjoy occasionally during the summer.

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    • Bill says:

      Cherie doesn’t like it as much as I do, but we do both enjoy it. I could live without it (as we have in the past) but I’d rather not. 🙂 The pigs like our culls and the goats and horse enjoy the stalks. But you’re right about it taking up space. It’s a heavy feeder too. I wouldn’t want to try to grow it on a large scale (as some of my neighbors do).

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  6. Mmmm, love that sweet corn. You would have been amused to see me putting up a deer fence until dark last night, Bill. I almost felt like a farmer. We’d had native plants put in above our house yesterday. Most came with the deer resistant tag but our deer don’t necessarily understand the concept, so there I was stringing 60 feet of fence and then tying string above it with flags to persuade the deer not to jump over it. Watched five check it out this morning. So far so good. –Curt

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    • Bill says:

      Good luck Curt. Deer are the biggest frustration and challenge we have in this life. I feel like the sword of Damocles is hanging over our farm’s head every night.

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