On our farm Sweet Corn is king and we give it all the attention it deserves.
As with all our produce, sweet corn quality begins with seed selection and continues right up to the point of sale.
One of the key details that sets us apart from many other growers is hydro-cooling.
This is a process of using chilled (42 degree) water to quickly remove field heat from the ears of sweet corn as soon as possible after picking. After a 30 to 45 minute shower in this chilled water, the corn goes into our refrigerated storage room and is held at 36 degrees. When it comes time to take the corn to one of our roadside stands or markets, we place 60 to 75 lbs. of ice on top of the corn crate and then cover this with and insulated cover to keep it cold. This rapid cooling slows the natural process of sugar conversion into starch inside the corn kernels and that translates to the fresh picked taste for our customers, even if they store the corn in their own refrigerator for days.
Don't take our word for it. Try it for yourself and see!
The sweet corn we grow is of a type known as Se (sugar enhanced), or another version of Se known as Synergistic. There are sweeter versions of corn available known as SH2, however they tend to have a tougher pericarp, (skin on the seed) and they do not have the true corn flavor and creamy texture, in addition they do not perform as well in cold soil conditions found in early spring and for those reasons we prefer the Se types.
In the picture below, bio-degradable plastic is being placed over corn that has already been planted, 4/3/2010.
Below, sweet corn that has come out of the field just minutes ago, gets a cold shower of 42 degree water, at the rate of 50 gallons per minute, to rapidly remove the field heat.
Below, corn after leaving the hydro-cooler goes straight into our large refrigerated room and is further cooled to 36 degrees.
A season takes planning.
The corn season begins with some early maturing varieties that produce an ear of corn in a short period. These varieties are typically very short and have limited leaf surface area and this results in a smaller ear and a little less flavor than our later, full season varieties. If you are from Nebraska, those little inconveniences don't matter all that much, it seems that none of us can wait for that first taste of a fresh ear of sweet corn right from the farm.
To bring in that first corn even earlier than would normally be possible, we have started using a very thin bio-degradable plastic over our early plantings and this speeds up the maturity as much as 2 full weeks versus corn that is planted normally in a open field.
The season quickly progress into the mid-season varieties. These varieties have excellent flavor, (as good as most later cultivars), and the size of the ears are considerably bigger, but not quite as large as the full season corn.
Weather permitting, by about July 20, or soon after, the full season corn has matured. These varieties have the best flavor and the largest ear size. These varieties, through the use of staggered plantings, will provide us with excellent quality sweet corn through the end of the season.