Sweet corn hits local produce stands

DeKALB – Growing sweet corn is a weather game for local farmers, and this season the rain has helped some crops and delayed others. 

Wiltse’s Farm in Maple Park has received more inquiries about its sweet corn than usual this year, and the rainy weather has helped with its crops, said Patty Marco, a Wiltse’s Farm’s employee and Wiltse family member. 

Last season’s drought made cultivation difficult, but the sweet corn this year is looking good enough that people should try to get some as soon as they can, she said. They shouldn’t count on the sweet corn lasting for the rest of the year, she said. 

“If it’s coming good right now, get out and get it,” Marco said. 

Wiltse’s Farm workers started picking and selling sweet corn last week. Although the rain helped their sweet corn crop, it delayed the growing season for other farmers. 

Excessive rain in the spring prevented the farm staff at Phillips Family Farm in Big Rock from planting sweet corn sooner, and co-owner Bruce Phillips said he doesn’t plan to sell sweet corn until after July 27.

Marco said Wiltse’s farm grows three different kinds of sweet corn: white corn, Mirai sweet corn and bicolor sweet corn, which has white and yellow kernels. Wiltse’s Farm staff staggers the timing of different varieties’ growth to prevent cross-pollination. 

Mirai sweet corn is the sweetest kind of corn, Marco said. “It’s the kind that you can eat without cooking,” Marco said. “People tend to eat it raw.”

The Phillips Family farm doesn’t offer Mirai corn, but Phillips says the bicolor and white sweet corn his farm offers taste just as good. Some of the seeds from bicolor and white sweet corn can be developed as well as Mirai corn, he said. 

“A lot of people tell me it’s just as good as they’ve gotten anywhere else,” he said. 

The typical price for a dozen ears of sweet corn is $5, but the price can shift depending on the volume of corn available and the quality of the produce, Phillips said. This year, Phillips didn’t reach 10 acres like he wanted, so he may sell the corn for $5. Last year he sold it for $4.

If there’s one thing that amazes Marco every season, it’s the people from DeKalb or Sycamore who don’t know local businesses like Wiltse’s Farm sell sweet corn. 

“You can always find something new outside your back door,” Marco said, “and it’s close to you.”

Local sweet corn providers:

• Wiltse's Farm

Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Location: 50 W. 379 Route 38, Maple Park

• Yaeger's Farm Market

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Location: 14643 Route 38, DeKalb

• Phillips Family Farm

Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday

Location: 17735 Chicago Road, Big Rock

• Wessels Family Farm

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday

Location: Intersection of Routes 23 and 30, Waterman

• Johnson's Sweet Corn, Pumpkin Stand and Corn Maze

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday

Location: 1765 W. State St., Sycamore

• Bountiful Blessings

Hours: 24 hours a day. Produce is sold on the honor system; customers are asked to leave payment in the box.

Location: 15565 McGirr Road, Hinckley

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