Tuesday, 27 August 2019 20:20

Flawed

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Selling loads of near-perfect corn is fun and easy. You get to make lots of people happy and it doesn't take much time or effort to find the right 13 ears to put in a bag. As a grower, judgment on when to start selling and when to pull the plug are the only things to decide. When the corn is flawed, however, it becomes more of a challenge. A couple of things come into play. First, we take very seriously your expectations and our reputation. We AGONIZE over our product being good enough to not disappoint. We routinely pass sellable corn in the field to another planting that is better. We don't hold over and sell day old corn. We will put as many ears in a bag as necessary to be called a “dozen” We do everything possible short of shucking it on the spot to put a good product in the bag. Secondly, we strive to make you aware of whatever shortcomings there might be. It seems simple enough but in reality this is hard to do. In my mind, I am going to have a one on one conversation with each customer like a store clerk selling a phone at Verizon. What happens is, people line up, we begin to do our best to judge the corn that goes into each dozen (which takes much longer) and the line grows. The pressure mounts to work faster and it becomes impossible to accomplish. So, I write things on my white board but to my dismay, very few people read it. I try to come up with ways to be informative on Facebook and the website but you are limited in space and what people will read (and who actually saw it that day). Worst of all, some people will say “We always get good corn, we are sure its fine” without actually listening to you. I say it's the worst because it makes me feel like I am betraying a trust.

In the big scheme of things, we are in control of very little when it comes to “growing” corn. If you have been around me very long, you have probably heard me say “God makes it, we just pick it”...and I am sincere when I say it. Weather and growing conditions are obviously in God's hands. Sometimes we are blessed with near perfection and other times, we do the best with what we have. Its a concept that is easy to remember when things don't go right, but harder when folks are slapping your back with compliments. I try my best to meet the compliments with this statement because all I did was plant a seed.

That brings us to our current patch of corn. It endured a long, hot dry stretch with only a smattering of rain. It isn't what we had hoped for. This variety doesn't handle stress well and as a result, it does this weird thing where it makes a tassel on the end (or in the middle of) the ear. Then it puts kernels on this tassel. It really looks weird compared to our other variety we have sold for a month. But each variety has strengths and weaknesses. That is why there are thousands of varieties of field corn, each doing something different (and sometimes better) in certain conditions. This current variety does better in the later season, is sweeter and provides better protection against worms. It makes a long skinny ear with a small cob. The previous “football” corn is weaker on worm protection, stays tender much longer in its maturity, is a very short height, makes a shorter fatter ear (football) and obviously handled hot dry weather better. Different conditions would make it not do as well.

The second problem we are facing with our current variety is an infestation of corn leaf aphids. They flourish in hot, dry conditions and (since our previous variety seemed to have none) we were caught off guard as to the severity of the problem. We expect that as we get into the following planting (and each successive planting after that) both the aphids and the glumes (bobble head,/weird tassel thingy) will lessen and subside. It really is a great tasting variety and one that we have mostly grown and sold over the years. Don't give up on it, we have grown it for a long time for a reason.

In conclusion, I just want to thank you for your loyal, enthusiastic support of our sweet corn business. It is very rewarding to bring our corn to you every summer and see all the ways it brings happiness and joy to our customers. It makes us all the more determined to please all of you kind folks.

 

 

Read 1022 times Last modified on Tuesday, 27 August 2019 20:29
Toby Brown

Toby is the owner of Lingley Bros. Sweetcorn since 2000. A 1989 graduate of Hoopeston East-Lynn High School, he began farming in 1993, the sixth generation farming the ground he lives on. He and his wife Paige have four children:  Jenna, Katie, Josh and Megan. Together they raise 48 acres of sweet corn, 900 tomatoes and a half acre of green beans. In addition to farming, Toby is an Elder at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Hoopeston, an officer on the Rossville Area Fire Department, assistant 4-H leader of Hoopeston Boosters 4-H club and a beekeeper.

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