September 30, 2014

Elyria
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Local corn growers have started harvesting their crop, and it is looking sweet

Local sweet corn growers are gearing up to put this year’s harvest on the market. Pat Fenik of Elyria Township will have his corn on sale Wednesday, selling white, yellow and bicolored corn from a roadside stand near his home on Lake Avenue, where his family has been selling sweet corn since the 1940s.
Fenik spent Monday walking the rows of corn, making sure he would have a ripe crop for the opening day of his stand. His face and arms were bright red from long days of working in the sun.
“We pick our corn when it is at the peak of perfection,” Fenik said, peeling back the green husk to reveal the golden kernels beneath. “This year it came a little early. We’re fortunate to open on the Fourth of July. It’s our busiest day.”
Fenik credited an excess of sunshine for the sweetness of this year’s crop, which he said is one of the sweetest batches he has seen. He will sell corn, onions and green beans every day until the first frost comes.
However, not everyone will be able to put their crop on the market as soon as Fenik.
Gary Sweet, who owns Sweet’s Gourmet Sweet Corn in North Ridgeville, said he does not plan to harvest his crop before July 10, and it might not be for sale until the third week of July.
“Rain is really the controlling factor,” Sweet said. “I’d like to have one inch a week. I’m leaving that in the hands of the man upstairs.”
Sweet said this month is the driest June since 1989. “Once we get started, it’ll be pretty good,” Sweet said. “If we can’t provide the very best, we don’t pick.”
Sweet grows sweet corn on 100 acres in North Ridgeville. His company distributes to the Giant Eagle supermarket chain and other stores in the area.
Sweet corn is less than half a percent of the total corn production in Ohio. Field corn, which is primarily used for animal feed and grain, is surpassing peak production records, according to the Ohio Corn Growers Association.
Despite a dry summer, Dwayne Siekman, executive director for the Ohio Corn Growers Association, said this year is going to be the biggest year of field corn production in Ohio’s history.
Farmers in Ohio planted an additional 850,000 acres of field corn this year, bringing the total to 4 million acres as compared with 3.15 million acres last year, Siekman said.
Contact Ben Norris at 329-7119 or bnorris@chroniclet.com.

070307corn.jpgCarl Sullenberger / Chronicle
Pat Fenik of Elyria Township shows off a few ears of sweet corn that are ready for the July 4 opening of his stand on Lake Avenue.