Katie's Journal

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Sweet Corn

by @ 6:19 pm on August 17, 2012.

Our sweet corn raising has been a hit or miss experience. As a second generation Ohioan who grew up on entire meals of sweet corn when in season I know what good corn is and will not settle for less. Having married a farmer with third generation produce experience you’d think outstanding sweet corn would not be too much to ask. And yet…

In 2009 we put out a big sweet corn patch. Ern had rescued an old horse drawn planter, got it going, and we used Caleb to plant with (which was an experience unto itself).


(wow would it be nice to be that thin again)

That year we did grow a beautiful stand of corn. Except it was what I would deem “hog corn” (so tasteless it is only fit for hog feed). Ern couldn’t figure out why I didn’t want to eat much corn after going on about how much I liked corn in general. His aunt sold some in town and I remember Ern getting pretty mad at me when I said I’d feel like a crook selling that junk. It wasn’t till the end of the season that we finally figured out the problem. To keep the crows from eating the sweet corn, Ern threw some old field corn out in the field. Despite being years old, it grew and cross pollinated with the sweet corn. All summer Ern had been giving me the big ears which all happened to be the cross pollinated junk. He was eating the smaller, pure ears. Which, of course, were very good. So 2009 was something of a flop.

In 2010 I recall the corn being good. In 2011 we had plenty. We tried 2 varieties but only one was good. The other was just so-so. This year our sweet corn was a complete disaster. We planted it late and did not till the garden a second time before planting. We might have gotten away with that on a different year, but the draught screwed with things. The corn was slow to germinate and grow. While it was stalled out, the weeds used their head start to take over. We tried once to weed out the corn patch but by that point it was already too late. We couldn’t spray that patch as we planted it just up from the water source to Arden’s house. So this year we are cornless. And that just stinks.

I am now plotting for next year. We are moving the corn patch back to where we had it in 2009. It will be where we can spray it and will be well away from the field corn. I’ve been researching what variety to raise and it seems everyone has a different opinion of the perfect sweet corn. Ern’s old standby favorite is the illini xtra sweet. Burpee carries that seed as well as an exclusive hybrid sun and stars. We tried to plant some different varieties this year and what few ears did grow for me to try were junk. So at this point my plan is to go ahead and order my sweet corn seed now so I have time to get proper seed plates for the planter (that was another problem this year – without proper seed plates the corn was planted way too densely). We’ll do mostly the illini and just plant two rows a week rather than trying to plant different day corn all at once. We also avoid any cross pollination that way. I’ll also get a little bit of the sun and stars to try. I’m basing that trial pretty much off one reviewer who said

For at least 35 years, from the late 1960’s, I grew almost exclusively Illini Xtra Sweet, which was really, I think, about the first Sh2 Supersweet Corn. I periodically would trial other varieties just to see, but none could compete, until I found Sun and Stars.

It’s like Illini Xtra Sweet on steroids! Bigger ears, fuller ears, sweeter, better flavor. I can’t IMAGINE a corn any better than this.

That’s quite an endorsement. Enough so that it’s hooked me into a trial.

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