If heat sticks around, Taber corn will be ready by the end of July

Click to play video: 'Farmers prepare for first Taber corn harvest of 2019'
Farmers prepare for first Taber corn harvest of 2019
WATCH ABOVE: Harsh spring temperatures may have been a challenge for Taber corn farmers, but recent heat has them almost ready for first harvests. Danica Ferris reports – Jul 15, 2019

A colder-than-usual spring may have thrown a wrench into Taber corn farmers’ dreams of early sales, but one farmer says they aren’t actually that far behind schedule.

James Johnson of Johnson Fresh Farms says every year he is peppered with questions on when one of Alberta’s most popular crops will become available.

“They always give us a hard time, but it’s good,” Johnson said. “Just because of the quality that we’ve been able to produce in this area, it’s really built up its name.”

And Johnson says locals won’t have to wait much longer.

“I bet — depending on what the heat does — somewhere between the (July) 26th to the 30th [we’ll hit the streets],” he said.

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Johnson said this year was the earliest his family has ever planted, but then Mother Nature decided to flip the script.

“It got really cold actually. This spring was a real cold spring,” Johnson said. “In fact, we had a couple nights where it was -10 C almost, so that kind of zeroed out the early planting date.”

The effects of the cold temperatures are still being felt by the Johnsons now.

“Our yield will be down on the early stuff, just because of the stress it went through,” Johnson said. “Some of our stalks didn’t make it.

“So far it’s kind of been a challenge. Now the heat has finally shown up, so hopefully we’ll get this corn rolling.”

Johnson said they took a gamble with the early plant date — a gamble that hasn’t paid off — but their later plantings are right on schedule.

“It looks like our second and third and fourth plantings all look really good, it was just our very first one that we kind of rolled the dice on,” Johnson said.

In 2018, the Johnsons had peaches and cream corn for sale on July 26, and the year before it was on July 27.

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“This year, we hope to be somewhere in there,” Johnson said,”hopefully, if the heat sticks around.”

Johnson’s family does five different plantings for the season, with three or four varietals that all mature at different rates. He says that his farm has the same kind ready first each year.

“It’s a peaches and cream… or bi-colour, as a lot of people say,” Johnson said, “followed by a super sweet yellow that comes on right after that.

“I guess Taber is pretty well-known for Taber corn,” Johnson laughed. “That’s one of the first things that people normally bring up, and then we tell them, ‘Yeah, we actually grow some of that stuff.'”

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