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Re: [growingsmallfarms] Let's talk sweet corn (and pumpkins)



I agree with Joel about the preference for se varieties over supersweet (sh2). The supersweet varieties were developed mainly for shipping, as they contain much more sugar and maintain their sweetness much longer (slow conversion from sugar to starch) with proper postharvest handling. Another variety you might could try is Argent, from Johnny’s. It is about a week earlier than Silver Queen and has done well around here. As to why do you see so much Silver Queen? It is reliable and the old standby and customers ask for it by name. That said, there’s a lot of room for trying new varieties and introducing these to our more adventurous customers!


For organic production, Silver Queen and Bodacious have shown some resistance to corn earworm. And I have a Zea-later in my office and will lend it to anyone who wants to do some organic control of corn earworm. It is a tool developed by Dr. Ruth Hazzard and her crew at the University of Massachusetts and is used for applying an oil and Bt mixture to the corn silks. It is sold through Johnny’s. I might ask you to collect some data if you borrow it.


Another helpful publication is ATTRA’s Organic Sweet Corn publication at http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/sweetcorn.html


I was toying with the idea of doing a late winter workshop on sweet corn and melons, or maybe just sweet corn.  We have a huge dearth of sweet corn in our local farmers’ markets, so there are plenty of opportunities. And Chatham Marketplace will be opening this year…


I’ll keep you posted on the workshop and let you know if I think of any other varieties. I am sure everyone on the list would appreciate any variety recommendations you may receive off-list!




Debbie Roos

Agricultural Extension Agent, Organic and Sustainable Agriculture

North Carolina State University

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Chatham County Center

Growing Small Farms Website: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/chatham/ag/SustAg/index.html

Post Office Box 279 

Pittsboro, NC  27312

E-mail:  debbie_roos@ncsu.edu

Phone:  919.542.8202  FAX:  919.542.8246

-----Original Message-----
From: growingsmallfarms-owner@lists.ncsu.edu [mailto:growingsmallfarms-owner@lists.ncsu.edu] On Behalf Of Joel Gruver
Sent: Saturday, January 15, 2005 3:53 PM
To: growingsmallfarms@lists.ncsu.edu
Cc: Bryan 'Busha' Green
Subject: Re: [growingsmallfarms] Let's talk sweet corn (and pumpkins)


Hello Shiloh,


There are lots of options for growing both sweet corn and pumpkins in NC...


In Goldsboro, I had good success growing Bodacious (a ~75 day yellow SE variety), Delectable (an ~80 day bicolor SE variety), Silver Queen (a ~ 90 white SU variety) and a few other varieties including one with bright red kernels (Sweet Scarlet ?) at full maturity...


I did not grow any supersweet varieties in Goldsboro mainly because I prefer the more corny flavor of non-super sweet varieties - SE (Sugar Enhanced) varieties taste great (sweet but still corny), hold their flavor well and are much more vigorous than super sweet varieties


Here are 2 links to NCSU publications about growing sweet corn... the second specifically discusses organic sweet corn production.




I grew some nice pumpkins in Goldsboro in 2000 but many started spoiling before Halloween... a combination of planting too early (matured several months before Halloween) and poor post harvest management (I think...).


Here is a link to an NCSU publication about growing pumpkins:


Here is a link to a listing of all the veg crop varieties that have performed well in NCSU trials: 


Lots of varieties that are not listed will also do well in NC.


The following link will take you to a listing of all the NCSU extension publications related to vegetable crops:



----- Original Message -----

From: Shiloh Avery

Sent: Saturday, January 15, 2005 3:24 PM

Subject: [growingsmallfarms] Let's talk sweet corn


Hi all,


We are in a dilemma about which type of sweet corn to grow and need some help!  Everybody around here grows Silver Queen.  Why?  I notice that it takes much longer to mature than many varieties; is this better for the southeast?  Every year, I wish for someone to grow a super sweet corn variety and every year I find only Silver Queen.  My experience with corn has been extremely limited.  The one time we tried to grow a super sweet, the ears were tiny and not filled out very well.  But we didn’t grow much of it and we grew it in rows as opposed to blocks which could explain the poor pollination.  Our lack of experience could have explained the entire lack of success.  Then some old timer told us that you can’t grow super sweet corn around here.  Is there any truth to this? 


What I really want is to grow a more interesting, sweeter variety of corn than Silver Queen, but I want to actually have a quality product.  Debbie, can you help us with this?  Is it possible that I should just look for a longer maturing variety of a super sweet or can we really only grow the normal kinds.


Thanks for your help!

Shiloh Avery