The First Sweet Corn!: Veggie Share Week #8 – 7/27/22
The First Sweet Corn!
This morning was the first harvest of sweet corn!
Our sweet corn successions are located at the K property this season. So most Tuesday mornings now for the next 8 weeks, the crew will start over there. Myself or another crew member will bring over a box truck. It will be loaded with black harvest crates, blue pallets bins to dump into, blue knives for trimming, coolers full of ice to dump on the corn and help cool it down while it waits for transportation back to main farm, radios for communicating with one another, and gloves so we don’t cut our hands on the corn – who knew?!
The harvesting process involves crew members taking one row of corn and harvesting the ears that are full and mature. This planting had 22 rows. (There is indeed a learning curve to this. If one of your ears is on the smaller size and not as sweet, please try to think of the worker who is learning and have compassion). We crack the mature ears off the stem and then do a second break of the extra fibrous material off the bottom of the ear. We fill our crates to 40 ears full. Some of us count and don’t chat. Others of us chat and just fill our crates, knowing we’ll average around 40 in the end. We then walk these crates out to the nearest roadway. Often you have to mark your row with a hat dangling on a corn tassel so you know where to return. We grab an empty crate and head back into the corn and keep harvesting.
Other members of the crew drive down the pathways and pick up full crates and corn, and leave empty crates behind. These picker uppers then drive back to the box truck on the edge of the field and dump into pallet bins. We use big blue knives to cut off, or tip ears of corn that have been munched on by bugs. We fill each pallet bin to 1200 ears of corn. At the halfway mark, we dump a cooler of ice on top of the ears. These pallets get loaded back onto the box truck and taken back to the main operation at J, where we unload them and then use a skid steer to double stack the pallet bins and get them cooling down in a walk-in cooler.
If you are new to organic sweet corn, please know two things:
1) It’s organic. That means we don’t use harmful pesticides…. which also means bugs can find their way into the tips of the corn. We try our best to cut off any tips that are obviously buggy, but you may need to do this yourself. Generally the ear of corn is perfectly fine and edible below the bugs. Just cut the tip off and don’t waste a perfectly delicious ear of corn.
2) It’s delicious. Eating it cold and plain is one of my greatest summer delights. No boiling. No butter. Just cold and sweet. Try it!
Fun Harvesting Tidbits:
Today was the hardest corn harvest we’ve ever done, because Saturday’s high winds blew the plants down. We had to bend down to the ground to find the ears and it was easy to stray from your row.
Every time I looked up from harvesting, one of our crew was standing there eating an ear of corn. We get to taste test to learn the correct maturity to pick at. We also get to eat the ones that don’t make the cut for the members…so fun to see everyone enjoying the literal fruits of our labor.
Standing in a field of mature sweet corn is daunting. The rows are long and you can’t see very far in front of you. Corn surrounds.
Hope you enjoy!