Corn late, but sweet

Despite lower than average temperatures and higher than average precipitation, local sweet corn growers are reporting a late but tasty crop of the late-summer favorite.

“We are a couple of weeks behind due to late spring planting caused by rain and cold weather,” said Harvey Lutz of Lutz Farms in Leavittsburg, “but that does not have an effect on the quality of the corn.”

Lutz, the fourth-generation owner of the farm that was established in 1918, was unable to cultivate about nine of the 45 acres dedicated to sweet corn production.

In Canfield, David Hull of White House Fruit Farm said, “Everybody has been affected by the weather. Sweet corn can’t be planted all at once, or it ripens all at once.”

He predicts a shortage of sweet corn around Labor Day due to interruptions in the staggered planting schedule.

According to the USDA’s Ohio Crop Weather Report, temperatures in Ohio were 1 to 10 degrees lower across the state than is typical for the week ending Aug. 3.

Corn conditions are 4 percent less favorable than last year.

“The corn has been slower to mature and has to be picked more selectively,” said Paul Spletzer of Spletzer Farms in Newton Falls.

He had to replant five of his 6 1/2 acres of sweet corn because of wet soil and cold temperatures in May.

In addition to the chillier and wetter weather, McMaster Farms in Columbiana has had to deal with an abnormally abundant red-winged black bird population.

“We are having a terrible time protecting the crop from them,” Dave McMaster said. “They love the sweet corn, too.”

McMaster sells his sweet corn in any amount, by the single ear or multiple truck loads, to places like Gary K.’s produce stand at the intersection of state Route 305 and Bazetta Road in Bazetta.

After the delay, customers are coming out for corn. On Wednesday, Lutz estimated the farm had 1,500 customers. He expects to sell 400 to 500 dozen ears of corn a day for the rest of the season.