After a lifetime of experience, Bill Ingersoll of Sullivan, Wis., knows nearly all the top production secrets for raising quality sweet corn. Along with monitoring the agronomy specs for growing this crop, he also relies on homemade equipment to build a successful enterprise.
“Over the years, I continue to tweak everything,” he says. “For example, a 40-foot drag line, 16 inches wide, initially carries the morning’s picked ears along so they can be sorted. Corn then flows onto two 20-foot conveyors that elevate [ears] to separate grading tables. During that time, they are selected as being either good or poor.
“Ears for sale keep moving to the 23-foot counting area. At this point, a laser-type system outfitted with micro switches counts and fills a circular carousel holding plastic containers or mesh bags with five dozen or four dozen ears every 45 seconds before being stacked onto pallets and loaded into delivery trucks.”
Some of the land on the seventh-generation farm was deeded in 1847. Ingersoll grows 140 acres of sweet corn and 120 acres of seed soybeans. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business management, the Jefferson County farmer planted onions, potatoes and corn before switching to his present crops in 1976. His business partner is John Stevenson. Today, the business is known as Ingersoll/Stevenson LLP Farms.
“Timing is the key element in this crop,” Ingersoll says. “It’s imperative to have enough product to fill daily and weekly demand from July into September. However, unknown factors such as weeds, insects and improper nutrition can still disrupt this process.
“Second, consistent quality is paramount to boost the bottom line. I rely on family members, along with a dedicated, hardworking crew to keep this business on track.”
Persinger writes from Milwaukee, Wis.