It’s safe to say that Eastern Ontario’s sweet corn crop has been flourishing this summer; Willowtree Farm in Port Perry reported picking more corn in the first 10 days of the season than they did all of last year put together. But with generous rains and warm temperatures, Western Ontario isn’t far behind.
Tim Beirnes, owner of TJ’s Farm Fresh in Cambridge, says his sweet corn season started almost a full week earlier than usual. The spring was dry, which was ideal for planting the corn early under clear sheets of plastic to warm the soil. The well-drained earth allowed the seeds to germinate and grow deep roots.
After that came the showers. “We’re just fortunate to be in an area that got lots of rain. We’ve had lots of moisture,” Beirnes said. They luckily escaped a bad hail just south of Cambridge.
The farm is experiencing a much better season than last year’s. In 2020, Beirnes says his corn field yielded between 60 and 70 per cent due to the drought. This year, he says his yield is “100 per cent, so every stalk has got a good ear.”
Beirnes says his farm is selling about half an acre of corn each day. The cobs are significantly larger than usual thanks to the rain and “the corn is delicious,” he says. He just has enough produce to keep up with the high demand.
Kelly Sheppard, storekeeper at Joyce Farm Market in Bothwell, says her family’s farm had a bit of a rough start, but things picked up after that.
“We had lost two fields of sweet corn because of the snow at the end of May that froze it off. We were about two weeks later than everybody else,” Sheppard said. They had to buy corn to sell at the start because theirs wasn’t ready yet.
At Joyce Farms, the sweet corn yield this year is about the same as last year’s. But last year’s sales were much better, which Sheppard says she owes to the initial pandemic craze of supporting local growers. Many people have now returned to their regular grocery stores instead of stopping by the farm.