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Corn crop weathers the storm to meet local demand

Posted on July 31, 2013 by Taber Times

Corn season is now upon us.

But it’s a season that almost wasn’t for some growers, however, as late-June hail and frequent July storms put some of the famous Taber corn crops in jeopardy. But yesterday by mid-morning, Taber corn stands popped up throughout the area.

“We’re on schedule,” said Taber-area grower David Jensen. “The stuff that wasn’t hit by hail is on schedule. It looks good.”

He added even though his fields were the victim of summer storms, along with the crops of many other local growers, the early varieties now on sale are available throughout the region.

“We’re in all southern Alberta.”

But just how much Jensen corn will be available throughout the summer and into the early fall is anyone’s guess at this point.

Hail and wind storms are just part of that equation, according to Jensen.

“There’s been less acres seeded than normal,” he said of Taber’s 2013 corn acreage, which will be greatly influenced by the weather from here on out.

“It depends on what the grade out is for the acres affected by the hail.”

What percentage of his corn that can’t be sold is yet to be determined, according to Jensen, who added the crops hit by hail are recovering, as it was early enough in the season for regrowth to occur.

“It’s coming back nicely,” said Jensen, who added those crops will take longer to mature. “It set it back a week to 10 days.”

Speaking of a week to 10 days, that is the timeframe other growers will likely have their corn available to the public.

“We’re hoping to be out by the beginning or the middle of next week,” said James Molnar, of Molnar’s Corn and Pumpkin Farm near Barnwell, who added none of his fields were hit by hail, even though he planted more acres this season.

“We’re up probably five to seven acres. We have enough for 30,000-40,000 dozen.”

That’s about 5,000-7,000 dozen more than last year, added Molnar, who added he’ll also have seven varieties for sale this year, up from four in 2012.

“It’s looking pretty promising,” he said of the crop, who added this week’s cooler temperatures will slow its maturity.

Molnar added he is looking to expand operations into Lethbridge this year, along with the farm’s traditional roadside location on Highway 3 near Barnwell.

As for Jensen’s corn, which was available in Taber on the weekend, a few days before it made its way to the city, the grower said southern Albertans should be prepared for higher prices.

“Our prices are raised a little higher,” he said, as he mentioned the $7.50 cost per dozen in Lethbridge is not due to decreased supplies due to hail, but other factors. “Labour costs are higher, fuel costs are higher and production costs are higher.”

Just how long southern Albertans will be shelling out for corn this season will be up to Mother Nature. A late-season hail storm, or cool, wet weather would likely limit corn growth from here on out.

Jensen, for his part, added his corn is typically available until about the 10th or 11th of September every year, while other growers, who enter the fray a little later each season, will have product available for a few weeks after that.

“I’ve got corn that will be on track until we get some frost,” said Molnar.

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