Even though Wednesday was declared Sweet Corn Day in Iowa and the delicious summertime staple is starting to appear at roadside stands, many Iowans will have to wait a while longer with the boiling water, salt and butter.
Mark Westrum grows the commodity near Stratford in Hamilton County and says this spring’s wet, cool weather meant for lousy planting conditions and the harvest will be late. “I plant ten different times, ten different weeks, and my later plantings are looking better than the early ones,” Westrum says. “They’re all almost ten days behind my usual schedule.”
While many farmers offer their sweet corn for sale just before the 4th of July, Westrum says he may not have his first batch ready until a week from next Monday — on July 22nd. Other farmers may be even later going to market with their sweet corn. Weather conditions have dramatically improved since summer arrived and Westrum says his corn crops are shaping up.
“Yeah, it’s grown a lot in the last couple of weeks, it really has changed,” Westrum says. “The maturity of the corn, it’s 70-day corn, and it’s just not going to make it that soon.” Heavy rains made many fields too muddy for heavy equipment this spring, while thousands of acres of Iowa farmland were flooded.
Angie Rieck Hinz, an agronomist with the Iowa State University Extension, says the improving conditions in recent weeks -almost- make up for the foul spring. “Obviously, it was wet, so we’ve got some compaction and some rooting issues,” Rieck Hinz says. “As it got a little warmer and even a little bit drier in places, you can see that showing up in some of the crop fields.”
While some farmers weren’t able to plant any crops this spring, Rieck Hinz says field corn and soybean crops are in excellent shape in other parts of the state. “We haven’t had a lot of insect activity,” Rieck Hinz says. “There’s not a whole lot of crop disease issues out there. That’s been great. I would anticipate if we continue to stay warm and wet, we may see some diseases pop up here and there.”
She says farmers should stay vigilant for soybean aphids, as there have been reports of some infestations in northwest Iowa.
(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)