LOWELL — The late country star Johnny Paycheck might sing “Take this corn and shuck it” when pickups piled high with sweet corn dot roadsides each summer.
Sweet corn is as much a summertime delight as watermelon and hot dogs. It’s tasty beyond words and so easy to fix. Boil it, microwave an ear or roast it on the grill.
Here at the shack-ri-la, we just shuck an ear or three and grill it for a few minutes, turning the corn now and then. Others like to spritz ears of corn with water and grill them in the husks. It’s a tasty vegetable that’s welcome at any campsite or picnic table.
It’s a rare summer that we miss our annual visit to Steve Brown’s family sweet corn stand on Goad Springs Road in Lowell. It was a close call this year. When we stopped by one morning in mid-July, it was the family’s last day to sell corn this season.
The crop was ready early this year, Brown said, so sales wrapped up sooner than usual. Brown grows a bit over 2 acres of sweet corn on his place. The corn is planted in April, and it’s ready for picking in early July.
Our little Tour de Madison County bicycle group rolls by Brown’s farm each Sunday morning on our weekly Razorback Greenway ride. We watch Brown’s field with eager eyes each spring. Tiny sprouts of corn stalks start poking from the ground. Each Sunday the sweet corn is a little taller. By summer, there’s eager anticipation wondering when sales will start under a tan tent set up close to the corn.
Evidently we aren’t the only ones watching. Their corn is so popular that traffic sometimes has backed up on Goad Springs Road with customers. The family fixed that this year, using social media for people to preorder their corn and pick it up later. It worked well, Brown said.
“The customers and the police were pretty happy about it.”
Frequent rain last spring helped produce a good crop, he noted. Growing corn isn’t always a sweet chore.
“Birds are the biggest problem,” Brown said. We figured geese were munching on the corn, there are so many around his farm. No, black birds do the most damage, he said. They’ll eat part of an ear so it can’t be sold.
Sweet corn vendors around Rogers tell us their corn is grown near Anderson, Mo. We also bought corn one Saturday this summer at Highfill City Park. The woman sales gal said the corn is grown at her family’s farm near Northwest Arkansas National Airport.
If eating one ear is divine, two is better. My personal record is six ears dipped in butter. That was one year during the annual Ragbrai bicycle ride in Iowa. Ragbrai stand for Des Moines Register’s Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa. Some 10,000 to 12,000 riders roll about 500 miles for a week across The Hawkeye State. When you’re riding a bike all day, you can put away some sweet corn.
Ragbrai is well attended by area riders. While biking on the greenway each Sunday, we always see a couple of riders sporting Ragbrai bike jerseys.
When the sweet corn cupboard is bare, we stop by a roadside stand on the drive home for another dozen ears.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at email@example.com if he’s not shucking another ear of corn.