National Corn on the Cob Day

Corn on the Cob

By: Diane Becker

Diane and her family raise alfalfa and corn near Madison, Nebraska.


Happy National Corn on the Cob Day! Are you celebrating this holiday with an ear of corn in one hand and a stick of butter in the other? I know my family, and others around our community will be enjoying this golden deliciousness thanks to the successful sweet corn crop we raised this summer.


My husband, Tom, loves to give away sweet corn throughout the season. He hands out a couple-dozen ears to our neighbors, friends at church, my co-workers and to others who are unable to grow their own.


When he orders his seed each February, I try to persuade him not to order a surplus. I am a generous person, but Tom goes through a lot of work himself to grow the extra corn for others. He hates the thought of anyone not being able to enjoy fresh corn on the cob like we do each summer.


Since there is no persuading him otherwise, luckily, the GMO extra-sweet seed variety he orders helps reduce some of the hard work of growing good sweet corn. This type of seed helps him manage troublesome weeds, insects and diseases that can occur during sweet corn production.


When it’s time to plant our sweet corn in late April, we use a special planter just for sweet corn. It plants in wider rows than our other corn. Tom plants about eight, quarter-mile-long rows of sweet corn early in the season in hopes that we can start eating it early! Sometimes though, spring weather does not always cooperate with us, and the little leaves of the corn poke up out of the ground only to freeze off and die. If this happens, he has to start over and plant the sweet corn again.


We also plant 1,000 acres of field corn each spring. Tom is also very careful with his field corn seed selection, and we use a special planter for this type of corn as well. Just like sweet corn, the leaves of field corn plants will freeze from unexpectedly cold spring weather or drown from too much rain, either of which means we have to replant the crop.


Luckily, Tom doesn’t give away our field corn that is harvested in the fall. Instead, this type of corn is sold at an elevator and goes to make things like animal feed and ethanol. The profit we make from growing field corn is how we make our living; sweet corn just gives Tom a hobby.


In between growing our field corn for profit, we focus on caring for our sweet corn to ensure it is healthy to eat and share with our friends once it is finished growing. To make sure the plants are getting enough water, Tom lays garden hose around the plot to serve as an irrigation system that trickles water onto the corn. To fight the nasty weeds, Tom is able to use a herbicide because he planted GMO sweet corn that can safely withstand the herbicide. This type of sweet corn prevents Tom from spending numerous hours hoeing weeds like he used to.


There is nothing like having sweet corn on the cob, and our family loves it. Tom truly enjoys picking a couple brown paper bags full of ears to drop off at the pastor’s office or the home of one of the kids’ friends.


Soon, the season will be over and the corn distribution done. We always seem to get a few thank-you notes or gift cards around Christmas time from people who really enjoyed eating our corn over the summer. Though it is a nice gesture from our friends, Tom does not raise the sweet corn for gifts and certainly not for a profit. He just enjoys sharing his love of sweet corn with others by spreading “corn-on-the-cob happiness” around town.


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