Corn crop plentiful this year
MUNCY – There is no doubt that the tri-town area is the best place in Lycoming County to get exceptional tasting fresh picked corn. Residents, local farmers, and visiting customers have all been acknowledging this year’s abundant growing season for Pennsylvania corn, testifying to its great taste and worth the extra trip to come this way according to the growers.
“Even in Iowa, the corn state, can’t beat ours,” said Jeff Fry a local producer on Middle Road in Muncy.
Prime growing conditions with just the right amount of rainfall this year have put farmers on track for an excellent growing season. High yield seeds and modern farming techniques have produced a record breaking crop.
“We expect a longer season, maybe into mid-September,” replied Walter Borek whose family has been operating a stand on Route 405 between Muncy and Hughesville for the past 28 years. “Everybody likes our corn,” he added. “It is hand picked fresh every day.” The Borek’s go through about a thousand ears a day.
This month is Pennsylvania Produce Month, and the Commonwealth states that most of the areas have had sufficient moisture to produce abundant crops. August is the peak season for growing corn and fresh vegetables. It is easy to pick up fresh, local grown foods at the many roadside stands. Some are a simple picnic stand or table with a drop-off money box based on the honor system, while others have a retail setting or supply the vegetables at a local farmer’s market.
Sweet corn is Pennsylvania’s largest vegetable crop and ranked as the seventh largest producer of fresh market sweet corn according to the PA Department of Agriculture. Growers plant about 12,700 acres per year.
John Heilman III, owner of Evergreen Farms, said that he has experienced ideal conditions for growing corn. “So far, it has been a pretty decent year, although a little cooler than most.” He expects to produce a crop as late as October. He has been growing corn on his 40 acre farm in Montgomery for the past 20 years following his grandfather’s lead who started the farm 40 years ago. He also said, “The gas guys from the mid-states said that the corn crop is better here in Pennsylvania.” According to Heilman, the soil is rich here, full of good loam from the river that makes it ideal for farming. “The mountains and the river protect us here,” he added.
Ted Fry, another Muncy grower, produces several varieties of corn. “White corn will last longer,” he said. Many like to purchase the white corn later in the season and freeze it for the winter. The farm which is located on Chippewa Road, was started by Ted’s father Earl. He remembers picking the corn as a young boy for carnival money. “We did the pickin’ and he gave us the spending money,” said Ted. His family has been farming corn for the community for over 46 years.
The Fry’s explained that there are four main varieties of yellow and white corn and several varieties within each. They are: Incredible, Silver King, Candy Corn, Bread & Butter. Each has a unique flavor with just the right amount of sugar content. Cooking the corn just right brings out the best flavor.
Crops are rotated and rows are planted every ten to 13 days in the spring. “Some like it young,” Fry said. “When it comes in, then we start to pick. Some want to wait later to freeze.” The yield is usually ready by the end of July or beginning of August.
Most of the farmers like to have new and older corn available at the same time.
People come from all over the country, say many of the growers. They are from Virginia, New York, Maryland, and the mid-west.
“Every year I purchase corn in the Montgomery, Muncy and Hughesville area. This year’s crop is especially delicious. Freshly picked corn is one of the great joys of summer.” said Luminary Publisher, Bernard A. Oravec.
It is a sure bet that corn will be readily available until mid-September. Many of the local stands are open during the week until 8 p.m. depending on how long quantity will last. “We are about two weeks behind getting the ground prepared and due to rain,” said Charles Ulrich, owner of Ulrich Farms in Elimsport, close to Allenwood and serves the White Deer Valley.
Most farmers are selling the corn for about 4 to 5 dollars a dozen. Discounts are offered if buying by the bushel and can be ordered by contacting the grower ahead of time.