Iowa sweet corn supplies will be meager for Fourth of July but farmers say more is coming
Golden fields of corn, RAGBRAI and a beautiful sunrise. Drone footage shows Iowa in all its glory. Rodney White and Brian Powers, Des Moines Register
Iowans will be hard-pressed to find local sweet corn for their backyard barbecues in time for the Fourth of July holiday week.
Due to the cool, wet spring, harvests will be later and ears will be smaller. But sweet corn farmers are confident that when things finally get rolling, the sweet corn will be plentiful. The recent spike in temperature will help things along quickly.
"We're not going to have sweet corn ready by July 4 weekend. Maybe the weekend after," said Ron Deardorff of Deardorff Sweet Corn. "The weather has not been conducive."
Deardorff said once the corn is finally ready, there will be plenty to go around, as he and his crew were able to do later plantings between the rain showers.
Some of the fields thinned out, but for the most part, the corn should be readily available at Deardorff's Sweet Corn Shack on the east side of Highway 169 just south of the bike trail in Adel and at Hy-Vee and Fareway grocery stores around the metro.
"I'm feeling positive for the season," Deardorff said. "We just got a late start."
Penick's Sweet Corn Stand is also looking at a later start for sweet corn availability this year.
"My best guess is July 10th to the 14th," said Mike Penick. "The rain hasn't affected the corn as much as the colder weather we had in May and June. It could make the ears much smaller. We won't know until it's fully developed."
Once Penick's supply of sweet corn starts being harvested, Penick's Sweet Corn can be found at U.S. Highway 65-69 on the east side across from the North River Corn Maze and at the Downtown Farmers' Market.
For Michelle Christenson, owner of Grimes Sweet Corn Stand, a few more days of summer heat can make all the difference.
"I'll have a better diagnosis on July 1," Christenson said. "A lot can change in two days and the heat we've had the last few days helps. But with the spring we had, the Fourth will be iffy."
Grimes Sweet Corn Stand's plantings were fortunate enough not to be affected by flooding but Christenson is also concerned that the ears will be smaller than usual due to the coolness of spring. Meanwhile, she will continue to walk out to the field every day, peel a few ears back and have a look at the kernels.
Christenson said that if she has corn available, it will be sent to stands no matter what — even if there's a low supply at first. She will post on the farm's website and Facebook page when and where it will be available.
"It might be a low supply, but we will still put it out there," Christenson said. "Corn can catch up if we have enough hot days in a row. And it recently now turned into summer."