December 19, 2014

Elyria
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29°F
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Already great pickings for area corn growers

What many have called a near-perfect spring and early summer of sunny, warm days, cool nights and ample rain has led to ample crops of sweet corn for area farmers gearing up for an earlier start to their annual sales season.

Some are delighted in the earlier-than-normal start to their seasons. At Fitch’s Farm Market in Avon, they started picking corn June 25, according to owner Adam Fitch, who wasn’t surprised about the early harvest.

Customers were, however.

“People didn’t believe it was our corn,” Fitch said.

Fitch said the early harvest was the result of distinctive planting techniques. “We do a lot of things other places don’t do to get it early.”

Fitch declined to say what those techniques were. “If I tell you, next year everybody will be doing it.”

The well-known Center Road business already is picking its third of the 20 to 25 varieties harvested there. Fitch, who said he eats about four ears of corn a day, described this year’s harvest as “very good.”

Even though he doesn’t plan to begin selling corn until next weekend from his main location at the corner of Lorain and Bagley roads, Gary Sweet, owner of Sweet’s Corn in North Ridgeville, agreed the majority of his corn varieties has ripened earlier than normal. “We’ve been planting midseason varieties,” which are generally superior to early varieties of corn now being eaten by eager corn lovers, he said. “Early varieties usually are not as good.”

Sweet said he may push up the big start-up of his summer selling season by a day or two.

“We should have quite a bit of volume by the 12th or 13th. That’s when most all ears are good to eat.”

Sweet corn loves water and heat, and the area’s rainy, hot summer has proved ideal.

“Once the corn has both, it moves rather quickly to the point where it is ready to be picked,” Sweet said. “It matures a bit sooner.”

Patrick Fenik of Fenik’s Sweet Corn in Elyria Township couldn’t be happier about this year’s early harvest. “I was surprised. We strive to have it by the Fourth.”

Customers were so eager to buy corn for the July Fourth holiday and beyond that they showed up at Fenik’s Lake Avenue stands ahead of his usual 9 a.m. opening Friday., Fenik said. “We have a lot of people vacationing, and they need to get their corn and get out of town.”

Fenik, whose employees picked 400 dozen ears of sweet corn Friday, said corn this year is great. “It’s excellent. I had it for dinner. It was very soft, very tender kernels.”

He had sold half of the 400 dozen ears by lunchtime. Not surprising, considering the Fourth of July weekend is always his busiest.

Gary Krieg of Krieg’s Strawberry Farm and Market on North Ridge Road mirrored Fenik in his praise of the corn crop. “What we’re picking is excellent.”

But he cautioned that there may be gaps in availability of quality corn as the summer progresses. “It’s either feast or famine in this business. Mother Nature controls it all,” Krieg said.

Some corn and soybean fields in low-lying areas around the county suffered “quite a bit of damage” from the frequent rain, according to Tim Malinich, extension educator for the Lorain and Cuyahoga County Ohio State University Extension offices. “Plants were almost underwater in spots where water didn’t drain as well. We saw irregular growth in areas.”

Many think the entire county got heavy rainfall this spring and early summer, but that wasn’t the case, according to Malinich. “Some fields in North Ridgeville had too much rain, while others didn’t get any. It really varied by location.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.
Contact Rona Proudfoot at 329-7124 or rproudfoot@chroniclet.com.