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Sweet! Conditions ripe for bumper corn crop

| Friday, July 5, 2013, 10:08 a.m.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Steve Ambrose, owner of Ambrose Farms LLC, checks on his sweet corn crop in Winfield, which should be ready to harvest in 10 days. July 2, 2013.

The recent rains and mini heat wave have helped produced a bountiful harvest of sweet corn, which should be at local farm markets and stores this week.

There was a short window to plant this spring with its many cool days and cool nights, according to Bob Pollock, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Indiana County.

“But there will be sweet corn,” he said. “The warmer weather pattern has helped push the crop along.”

Reports from throughout the Alle-Kiski Valley predict a swell season for the summer delight.

“You can find a good supply of locally grown sweet corn and the quality just keeps getting better,” said Lee Stivers, a horticulturist for Penn State's Cooperative Extension program.

There were early plantings, some of which were hit by frost early in the spring, but that didn't diminish the crop, she added.

“Farmers are used to dealing with inclement weather,” she said.

And that's exactly what Tim Hileman of Kistaco Farm, along Route 56 in Kiski Township, had to do with his sweet corn crop. He planted a week later than usual because of the cold spring.

Temperatures reached the low-30s late on Mother's Day and the cold snap hung on the following week.

“I kept holding off on planting,” Hileman said. “We lost a few things, but nothing major.”

He expects his first harvest of sweet corn in the last 10 days of July. Currently, his market is selling peas, cherries, zucchini, cabbage and broccoli. He expects his early summer apples to come in the next few weeks.

Hil Schramm, one of the owners of Schramm Farms & Orchards, Penn Township, started his sweet corn under a protective cover early in the season so it can be harvested this week.

“All the rain that we had has been really good,” Schramm said. “Corn likes the rain.”

Steve Ambrose of Ambrose Farms LLC, along Bear Creek in Winfield Township, agrees.

“No drought. No nothing like that. It worked out good this year,” he said.

Ambrose stages more than 20 plantings of his 150 acres of sweet corn.

The corn will be ready next week.

And Ambrose is happily waiting: “Come July 12, there will be hundreds of cars here.”

Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or mthomas@tribweb.com.

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