Posted on 2021-08-09
Every year, for as long as I can remember, we have raised sweet corn on our farm. In the early years, a sweet corn crop could consist of 6 rows on the outside of field corn; more recently, we have had multiple plots of an acre or more. This year, our sweet corn crop consisted of roughly .0033% of our total crop acres for the year. The sweet corn crop is without a doubt the most expensive crop we grow. The seed alone costs around $400 per 1 acre bag. We use a Roundup ready, rootworm resistant hybrid for both weed control and plant health. This year we had 3 planting dates on the sweet corn plot. These staggered plantings are necessary to make sure that the entire crop is not ready all at once. Multiple trips of nitrogen applications were made to the plot to ensure maximum yield potential. Weed control in the sweet corn is also a priority. Growing the crop takes a team of dedicated efforts, starting with the planting of the seed in the ground all the way to the family dog, Carson, guarding the plot from the sneaky raccoons trying to rob us of our efforts.
So, you may be asking, “What’s the big deal about the sweet corn plot?”
This year it was harvested July 26th. Without even looking back, I am guessing that it was the hottest, most inconvenient, busiest day of the year. I am sure that this was the case because that is the story every year. But, when the sweet corn is ready, that is the day that it needs to be picked.
On this day, after lunch, Dad (Tim) started picking corn. He was joined by William (8), Olivia (11) and Isabel (14). I started getting the pots and burners out of the back of the shed. Megan and Emma (15) were setting up tables. Mom (Carolyn) backs her car up to the garage to unload knives and pans. Katie flies in 15 minutes late with Cole (16), Waylon (15) and Levi (10). Waylon and Craig immediately start filling pots and heating water. Katie, Cole and Levi start shucking corn. Next is Jill with Laney (17), Lexi (17) and Ted (13) all headed towards the corn shucking station. Molly wheels in shortly with Ruby (8), Dixie (6) and Miles (3), all eager to help. The neighbor, Tracy, shows up with her son. Even a couple of employees stick around to lend a hand after they clock out. Without much direction, everyone falls into place working to get the sweet corn crop harvested. We have a picking crew, shucking station, cooking group, cutters, packers, counters and runners. In the early days we had babysitters included in the mix. This year, in less than 5 hours we had successfully processed over 275 quart bags of sweet corn. The day ends with hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill and a potluck dinner that is better than most. The kids transitioned from sweet corn to balloon fights and gator rides and are as exhausted as the parents.
Every year we talk about how we don’t need to grow as much sweet corn as we did the last year. Yet as I am sitting here, recounting our harvest, it doesn’t seem like all that much work after all.
Maybe I am finally realizing after all these years, it really doesn’t have anything to do with corn...