Agribusiness

PPR sweet corn1 0811
PPR sweet corn2 0811

Sweet corn late this year

By: AMY HEGGEN

PLATTSBURGH — Corn-on-the-cob fans may have noticed less product than usual for this time of year, but farmers expect to see improved supply and size in the coming weeks. 

Pray’s Family Farm on Route 9N near Keeseville plants 60 acres of corn, but about 30 percent didn’t germinate as a result of the wet weather, said Regan Pray, co-owner of the farm.

“This first picking … which is the super sweets, they’ve all been dramatically lessened with the severe weather we’ve been having," he said.

Pray would normally expect a 6-or-8-inch ear of corn this time of year to sell at the farm's stands on Route 9N and in Plattsburgh. On weekends, Pray corn is sold by the roadside in Tupper Lake, too.

“The quality of the corn is there, but the size is compromised,” he said. “There’s a lot of corn out there that’s 2 or 3 inches long that’s just not harvestable."

SUPPLY AND DEMAND

The price per dozen reflects smaller supply, he said.

Friday, that was $5; in years of plenty, it tends to be $4 or even $3 for 12 ears.

He expects to have larger ears of corn with larger kernels later in the season.

“Within the next week, we’ll have the new crops and new ears and the high-quality corn we expect to see here in the North Country,” Pray said.

Pray has also had issues with pumpkins, winter squash and anything that takes a long time to grow.

“Farming is a gambling business,” he said.

'SOIL IS KEY'

Rob and Amy Ivy of Essex have a backyard garden with a small patch of corn that is doing well.

Instead of seeding the corn directly, the Ivys tried something new this year — transplanting the seedlings near the end of June.

For a large-scale farmer, though, this method may not be feasible, Mr. Ivy said. 

“We had about 10 hours without rain in June, and Amy ran out and planted it,” he said.

Though he said his corn is nowhere near ready, he expects good quality.

“The key is the type of soil you’ve got,” Mr. Ivy said. “If you had real heavy clay soil, you could see where it was really stunted.”

With clay soil, the rain tended to flood the seedlings. Rain also caused fertilizer runoff, causing small ears of corn with yellow leaves, he said.

LOST INCOME

The Gonyo Farm in West Chazy planted only a few of the 5 acres that they usually sow with corn because of flooded fields.

Their sandy soil saved the germinating seeds and young plants from drowning in the rain, but the last few weeks have stunted the corn, Bonnie Gonyo said.

“We had this dry spell for the last couple of weeks, so that really kind of hurt us because it’s drying out too quickly,” she said. 

Doug Lamoy, owner of Lamoy’s Produce and Greenhouse in Morrisonville, said this is the worst season for farming he's seen in the 39 years he has been there.

“Generally, by August, we’re picking it (the corn) and wholesaling it,” he said.

Currently, Lamoy is buying local corn to sell, but it’s been hard to get a consistent local source, as everyone is in the same boat, he said.

“That’s lost income from us selling it and the expense of buying it,” Lamoy said.

'AWFULLY SMALL'

Usually, Lamoy plants between 20 and 25 acres of corn, but only eight acres were planted as a result of the rain.

“Of that, we lost five acres; it (the rain) just drowned it,” Lamoy said.

The rain also inhibited him from fertilizing the corn, and the heavy soil on the farm didn't help, either. 

“There are certain things you have to do as the plant is grown, fertilizing and spraying,” he said. “We couldn’t get the equipment out on the fields.”

Customers have noticed the difference in the corn, Lamoy said, but they've been understanding about it.

“There are some that look at it and go, ‘Boy, that’s awfully small,’” he said. “Overall, it’s been good tasting, but generally the ears are a lot smaller."

'ROUGH WINTER AHEAD'

Lamoy was only able to plant about a third of the vegetables he usually does.

“There’s not a crop out there that’s doing well," he said. “It’s not going to be a super profitable summer. It’s going to be a rough winter.”

He expected to see better corn within a few weeks.

Published: