We grow several plantings of sweet corn for you, and for us as well; it is my favorite summer treat.  Unfortunately for all of us, many of our neighbors have decided to help themselves to your/our corn; the offenders primarily being our majestic Sandhill Cranes.  They have had a very successful reproductive season; the newborns are now nearly the size of their parents.  We always experience some wildlife damage to our sweet corn; raccoons, coyote, geese and cranes.  However, this year the cranes have just settled in for a long visit in our sweet corn patches.  They tend to peck a bit at the top of the ear and move on to the next; the ears are at the perfect height for them you know.  So what we are getting is an exceptional number of tattered ears.  The cranes only nibble on the very tops, so they may feel they are being polite, only ruining the upper 20% of the ear.

Now we could just pass over those ears and only deliver the non-crane ears.  However, that would mean you would not get much corn.  So we have decided to deliver these ears;  better a partial ear than none.  Last week some of you got less than perfect ears without this introduction to crane-ears, and were a bit surprised.  Even the ears that look perfect from the outside may hold a surprise once opened, such as a bad spot or some corn fungus that we cannot do anything about because we can’t see it; please just cut off the bad part.  This week we put in the effort to cut off the crane damaged ends; so you will be getting some “shortened” ears.  If we miss a few, please feel free to shorten them yourselves.  As of this writing, next week’s sweet corn harvest has not yet been discovered by the cranes; keep your fingers crossed.

At the Corn Boil last weekend, one young girl found it particularly exciting that she was sharing her sweet corn with the Sandhill Cranes.  I very much appreciate the perspective and attitude, but will have to admit the farmer in me has a hard time embracing such a thought.  Organic sweet corn is a very high maintenance crop; so much effort goes into producing it.  To give you an idea of what I mean in financial terms, if I sold it at a market, I would need to sell it for $1.50 per ear to justify growing it, and even then I would not do it; too risky with those cranes and other critters about.  So why do you see way cheaper corn all about this time of year?  The answer is chemicals.  Several types of pesticides applied to conventional corn make it an “easy” crop to grow and relatively cheap to grow.  We don’t use those chemicals.

The most common question I was asked at the Corn Boil: why does your corn taste so good?  Answer: it is fresh, harvested when it tastes the best, and kept at the proper temperature.  Large growers supplying grocery chains get paid by the ton, so there is an incentive to let the sweet corn get big kernels; that means overripe corn.  Sweet corn should not be left unrefrigerated.  All the local sweet corn you see sitting in the heat of the day on the roadside stands is getting worse by the hour.  It loses eating quality unless kept cold.  Even then, corn is significantly better fresh.  So eat it up right away.  Alternatively, a fresh ear freezes extremely well if par boiled for 3 minutes, then dunked in cool water to cool down, kernels cut off, bagged and frozen.  When you want it, just lightly reheat it.  We eat fresh tasting corn all winter following this process.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy the beautiful Sandhill Cranes on our farm sometime.  That would be your payback for some tattered sweet corn.

Harvesting Sweet Corn. The people harvesting the corn follow behind a conveyor. Each ear of corn they pick is put onto the conveyor and lifted into the wagon. Two people are waiting to receive it and count it into crates.

Corn traveling on the conveyor.