North Fork farmers say corn crops OK as season begins

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Ed Harbes picks super sweet corn Wednesday afternoon at Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck.
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Ed Harbes picks super sweet corn Wednesday afternoon at Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck.

Corn on the cob lovers can breathe a sigh of relief: despite the wet weather of recent weeks, local farmers say their corn crops are in decent shape.

In other words, you can plan on enjoying fresh sweet corn at your Fourth of July barbecue tomorrow.

“The cool spring has delayed our harvest a few days but otherwise we’re optimistic about excellent corn quality this year,” said Ed Harbes, owner of two Harbes Family Farm locations in Mattituck and Jamesport.

“Fortunately, rain seldom affects sweet corn because it’s three feet off the ground and gets a lot of natural ventilation.”

The corn season, Mr. Harbes said, typically starts right around the Fourth of July and runs through the end of October. Mr. Harbes said he’s going to begin picking small amounts of the farm’s super sweet corn today.

As of Friday, Harbes Family Farm had been selling super sweet corn from Georgia.

“We’ll have to see what percentage of the corn is at its peak maturity,” Mr. Harbes said of the Mattituck farm’s 60 acres of corn. “When super sweet corn is too young it doesn’t have its full flavor.”

Mr. Harbes added that corn growers as nearby as Riverhead typically see their harvests come in a few days before farms do farther east on the North Fork.

“Our neighbors in Riverhead typically have slightly warmer temperatures because they’re less moderated by the water that’s on either side of us here,” Mr. Harbes said. “Their corn is typically ready a few days earlier than ours.”

That’s the case at Rottkamp Fox Hollow Farm in Riverhead, where owner Jeff Rottkamp said his 110-acre corn crop was affected by the rain but there will be a large enough supply for the holiday weekend.

Rottkamp Fox Hollow Farm sells sweet corn to local farm stands.

“When we had rain there were times when we should have been planting and we couldn’t get onto the farm,” he said.

“It’s going to be an interesting season from start to finish.”

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