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Posted August 1, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

For area farmers, big spring rains result in big corn crops

By Ryan Cornell

It's raining, it's pouring, there's more corn for storing.

After this spring's above-average rainfall, some valley farmers are experiencing a plentiful yield of corn in their fields.

Wes Hockman, who grows sweet corn on land near Sandy Hook Elementary in Strasburg with his brother Roger, said it's probably one of the best corn crops he's had in more than 30 years of farming.

"Corn is very good this year," he said. "Last year isn't even close."

The brothers sell their ears of sweet corn out of a pickup truck at two locations: the Strasburg Farm & Home Service parking lot and on Interstate 55 next to Newstar Market. Hockman said they've been selling between 1,000 and 1,200 ears each day.

"We've got a lot of second and third repeat customers, so it must be better," he said. "It is awful sweet this year."

Hockman said they planted the corn near the end of April and started shucking the corn on Sunday.

This year, the stalks of sweet corn are 7 to 8 feet tall, he said, and many of them have two ears.

It's a welcome change from the recent droughts that have plagued local farmers.

"There's been several years where it never even got this tall," he said, pointing to his knees. "That's when it's dry and the ground cracks open."

He said it's been so dry some years that they haven't had any corn to sell at all.

"But this year, we've had rain every day that we've needed it; at least once a week," he said.

The county has seen abundant rainfall over the past 10 weeks, said Shenandoah County extension agent Bobby Clark.

"People, on the whole, are happy about the rain we've had," he said.

He said that corn prices have been trending downward over the past few weeks and added that the prices, controlled by a world market, are influenced by factors far away.

Because Hockman sells his corn straight from the field to the roadside, he's free to set his own prices, charging customers $4 for a dozen. "We try to sell it cheap enough so that we can get rid of it," he said. "Because there's a whole lot of it." He said he hopes to sell his corn for about two more weeks.

Clark said the amount of rainfall has been a "mixed bag" for area farmers. He said some cornfields have been drowned out, replanted and then drowned out again by the rain, while other fields have become extremely uneven.

"When it comes hard and fast, it washes a lot of the fields really bad," Hockman said. "But we're not going to complain about it."

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com


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