Cool spring will delay sweetcorn growth


June 20th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The cool April weather will delay one of the favorite summer delicacies of Iowans. Growers say sweetcorn planting was slowed and it won’t be available in great supply until after the Fourth of July. Ron Deardorff of Adel, grows 160 acres of sweetcorn in central Iowa. He uses some custom planting techniques to help the corn survive cooler weather. 

He says they lay down plastic and then he has a special planter that pokes a hole in the plastic and drops in a seed. It basically creates a little greenhouse underneath the plastic. Deardorff supplies various stores and vendors with sweetcorn and also supplies it to the annual “Adel Sweetcorn Festival.” Deardorff has been growing the Iowa favorite for almost 30 years, and says genetics have improved the quality of the corn over the years.

He says the corn is sweeter, the plants are healthier, the stalks are better to support the ears. “The corn we were planting 25 years ago wouldn’t even compare to the wonderful stuff we have nowadays,” Deardorff says. The advances also mean the sweetcorn can be stored longer before it loses its flavor. Deardorf plants the corn in about 20 different stages so new corn is maturing right up to labor day. Iowans cook sweetcorn in a variety of ways and eat it with butter and salt and other additions — but Deardorff likes it best fresh without condiments. 

“The true test of corn is raw right there in the field, it’s not covered up by butter, salt and pepper or anything,” he explains, “…I’ll probably eat more raw corn than I do cooked corn.”

With a good crop, Deardorff will produce about one-point-five million roasting ears this growing season. Fuel, fertilizer and seed costs are up this year, which means sweetcorn is expected to see a little increase in price this year once it hits the stores and stands across the state.

(Dar Danielson/Radio Iowa)