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The kids want sweet corn. Who doesn’t, right?

Our farm is moving back into the fresh market business.

Kyle Stackhouse 2

March 31, 2023

2 Min Read
Sweet corn for sale at farmers market
Getty images

Years ago, while I was in college (and for a while afterward) I began growing fresh market sweetcorn. At one point in time I was growing 4 or 5 acres, had stands in two nearby towns, and also sold a lot of corn at the produce auction.

It was good money for a college kid, but it was a lot of work.

To keep a constant supply of corn, I would have to plant several maturities every week or ten days. If I wanted any chance of having supply for the fourth of July, I would have to hope there was a warm planting window in mid-April as sweetcorn isn’t very hearty getting out of the ground.

I also counted most of the first patch as a sacrifice to the raccoon population as the early planted corn never got tall enough to put ears out of reach. You also have to keep ahead of insects and disease which requires regular fungicide and insecticide applications.

Daily hand harvest

Probably the hardest part of this is the hand harvest required on a daily basis. To get the best product, it requires picking the corn in the morning when it is cooler. This means you’re carrying baskets of corn through rows of stalks covered with dew. Every morning you get soaked!

I can also remember trudging through mud and picking from stalks that were blown over by a storm in the middle of the night, knowing if I didn’t get them picked today, the raccoons would do it for me that night.

The last several years, we have done as many farmers do -- when planting that corn near the house, we emptied out a few rows and put sweetcorn in those rows. We had enough for us and sold any extra on social media. Last year, we didn’t plant any at all, and the kids have asked since then if we can grow it again.

Last week, I finally gave in and ordered seed. Even though many of the hybrids are the same as 15-20 years ago prices have skyrocketed! I only ordered enough seed for ¾ to 1 acre.

Soon we will know how serious the kids are about sweetcorn!

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

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