Sweet corn faring well

This year’s crop of sweet corn is doing well, despite a late frost that claimed some of the stalks, according to area corn growers.

“We had a little bit of a problem in May, but what’s left is excellent,” said Dolly Lutz of Lutz Farms in Leavittsburg.

However, field corn is worse off in many areas, with warm spouts of rainfall followed by a lack of steady heat leaving farmers with an inconsistent crop.

“In Mahoning, Trumbull and Ashtabula counties, the field corn currently is very inconsistent the further north you get. Some field corn is shoulder high or head high, and some fields are barely knee high. It is really hit or miss,” said Trumbull County Farm Bureau director Ty Kellogg.

Kellogg said it isn’t just from farm to farm; inconsistencies are found even within one field.

“It’s been a very mixed-bag year for a lot of farmers who grow corn, whether it’s field corn or soybeans for that matter,” Kellogg said, adding that sweet corn appears to have fared pretty well.

“Any crop that’s making it right now seems to be strong and looking good, and anything that’s not making it doesn’t look like it has a chance. There’s a lot of disparity,” he said.

For one field corn farmer in Trumbull County, this year’s crop is a hit.

Rich Roscoe, part owner of Roscoe Brothers Inc., called his crop ”excellent,” largely because of the work done to keep the soil at a good pH, which is a measurement of how acidic or basic a substance is, and ”you’ve got to fertilizer the devil out of it.”

He expects the 600 acres he farms with his brother Stanley in several northeast Trumbull County communities to yield about 200 bushels of corn. The average per acre bushel is about 150, Roscoe said.

Also, Roscoe said, the fields he farms have drainage tile to channel off water.

”All of our fields are tiled, and I’ll tell you what, the corn looks really good,” Roscoe said. ”It’s all above my head two feet.”

Field corn is different from sweet corn in that it’s not meant for human consumption. It can be eaten off the cob, but ”it may not taste very well,” Roscoe said. Instead, its uses range from feed for cattle and horses and to corn flakes to bread, Roscoe said.

Roscoe said he expects to begin harvesting in mid-October.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ohio corn is in its best shape in years.

The USDA reports that more than three-fourths of Ohio’s corn crop was in good or excellent condition as of July 21 – compared to 15 percent at the same time last year when scorching heat caused a drought that threatened crops.

Fran and Ed Hoerig of Newton Falls never miss the opportunity to buy sweet corn from Lutz Farms. They can’t recall how many years ago their tradition first began, but they said there is no comparison between Lutz corn and other sweet corn.

“Oh, it’s much better here. It’s always really good, good quality,” Fran Hoerig said.

Pat Harris, 64, of Warren, agreed.

“It’s the best. Sweet, firm, and most of the ears are good,” she said.

Harris said it was her third year hand-selecting ears of sweet corn for her church, New Jerusalem Fellowship. The Lutz family donates fresh corn each year to area churches, food banks and shelters, and this year Harris left with a wagon full for the church’s Old Fashioned Day celebration.

Harvey Lutz said opening day on the farm is always the busiest, and this year they were sold out of sweet corn in less than two hours.

Dolly Lutz said the key to their success lies in the seed itself, along with the fact that it is always fresh.

“We pick it fresh every night and we never hold it for the next day,” she said, adding that the variety is a closely-guarded secret. But she did give one bit of advice for those who enjoy growing their own produce:

“Go for the most expensive seed. You get what you pay for,” she said, and normally the expensive seed is what ends up yielding the tastiest crop.

Ohio’s corn industry supports about 34,000 jobs and generates nearly $359 million in labor income each year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.