Now is the time for fresh, local corn, and farm stands are doing a brisk business as summer comes to an end.
Jeff Karlin is making an important stop this afternoon, at Piney Woods Farm in Deerfield. “This is the best corn around,” he says. “They sold out of corn, and it wasn't available until Tuesday, so here I am.”
Karlin usually gets his corn at this small farm a couple of times a week, once it's in season. But this year, it hasn't always been available.
“We've had corn now since the second week of August, but off and on,” says Kathy Treem, the owner of Piney Woods Farm. She says a few factors have made it hard to keep corn coming during this season.
Farmers don't plant all their corn at once; they plant some, then more a week or two later, and so on, so they have newly ripe corn coming steadily through August and September. But Treem says rain disrupted the plan this year, so the corn wasn't planted at the right intervals.
Rain also washes away pesticide, exposing the plants to the corn borer, a moth whose larva eats through the ears and stalks.
Then, there have been those chilly nights this August. “Nights being cold, the corn doesn't ripen,” says Treem.
There's still a lot of corn available in New Hampshire this season. It's just that, once corn is known to be in season, demand is extremely high. The variety of corn grown on three acres of Piney Woods Farm, called Super Sweet, is especially popular, says Treem's daughter, Mary Clattenburg.
“People love this variety, so they don't buy, usually, six at a time, they've been buying dozens at a time. We can't keep up.”
She says people go heavy on corn when it's around, enjoying it fresh and local while they can.
Of course, this demand for corn is good for farmers, but Treem says it's especially vital to roadside farm stands like this one. “If you don't have corn, then you don't sell the rest of the stuff,” she explains. “Corn is number one. They buy corn, then they say 'Maybe I'll get this or that,' but if they see a sign, 'No corn,' they just drive by and leave.”
Luckily, this afternoon there seems to be enough corn at the stand, as locals and summer residents stop by for three ears, six ears, twelve – all the corn they can get.