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Customers all ears for start of Taber corn season

Click to play video 'The rise in Taber corn popularity and how hail damage may impact sales' The rise in Taber corn popularity and how hail damage may impact sales
WATCH ABOVE: Corn grown in the southern Alberta community of Taber is notoriously popular around the province. On Thursday, Johnson Fresh Farms opened up stands in several communities to serve those looking to buy their favourite summer vegetable. Eloise Therien has more.

For decades, Taber corn has been a hot commodity around southern Alberta. Each year, a selection of stands from different growers open around the province to welcome eager customers.

“I’ve been buying Taber corn ever since I was a kid,” said Susan Mehlen of Lethbridge.

Johnson Fresh Farms a fifth-generation corn and potato farm, experienced some hail damage on their crops several weeks ago. Despite this, the early season has been a success.

“The hail storm didn’t hit this corn,” said co-owner Joe Johnson of the crop currently on sale. “But the corn it did hit has been delayed, so we might have a bit of a gap in our season where we don’t have anything ready.”

Read more: Some Alberta farmers bracing for worst harvest in 18 years: ‘The damage is done’

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Johnson adds this gap may come mid-August, but that improvements could still happen before then if the heat continues.

“You never know,” he said. “The stuff we’re waiting on might grow a little quicker than we had planned.”

For customers, the return of the summer favourite is very welcome.

“It’s juicy, it’s always fresh,” said customer Tom Munro. “I’ve never had a problem with it.”

That popularity, according the the Johnson’s, is somewhat due to the growing conditions.

“It’s a good combination of our soil health, our irrigation water from the Rockies… we get tons of heat,” Johnson said. “I think it’s just a mixture of those things, and a little bit of magic from the Town of Taber.”

Read more: Summer conditions leaving Saskatchewan farmers optimistic heading into harvest

Taber Cornfest, a yearly festival in the town, won’t be happening this year due to COVID-19.

“We have corn-eating, a corn-stuffing competition, lots of activities that revolve around corn,” said chair of Taber Cornfest Jared Bell. “We have a fair number of vendors that would sell fresh corn-on-the-cob.”

Bell says this shouldn’t impact vendors, but is looking forward to resuming the tradition next summer.

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Johnson stands opened in the following locations Thursday:

  • Lethbridge
  • Taber
  • Medicine Hat
  • Brooks
  • Bow Island
  • Fort Macleod
  • Coaldale
  • Medicine Hat
  • Claresholm
  • Raymond
  • Cardston
  • Picture Butte
  • Pincher Creek
  • Blairmor

Calgary locations will be open Friday, and the corn will be coming to Edmonton on August 5.