A couple of months ago I wrote about all the different varieties of corn that are now available for the home gardener – standard, sugarenhanced, supersweet and others. After writing the article I decided I had to try growing some sugar-enhanced corn.
I planted the corn variety Bodacious in late June, some in a bed that had first been filled with peas and beets and more in a raised bed that had been the home to day-neutral strawberries that weren’t producing any longer. This is about a month later than I would have usually planted corn but I knew there was still time for it to mature.
I have to admit that I didn’t do a very good job of preparing the soil in the bed that had the peas and beets. I basically dug some shallow trenches and planted the seeds. They germinated fine but the growth wasn’t very uniform. One row was a lot larger and healthier while another row lagged behind. This wouldn’t be a problem for most vegetables but because corn is wind-pollinated, you want the plants to grow uniformly so that when the silks appear, the tassels will be shedding pollen.
That happened in the corn that I planted where the strawberries had been but not in the other plot. Instead, plants were tasseling and silking randomly. I doubted that I’d get any corn from these plants.
The surprising thing is that both locations produced corn. The ears from plants in the old strawberry bed were fuller and more evenly pollinated. But I was still able to get ears from the other location; the pollination was a little more hit and miss and the ears certainly wouldn’t make the cover of a seed catalog but they were usable.
The one thing I have to say is that the taste of Bodacious wasn’t very bodacious. I was expecting to be shocked by how much better it tasted than corn from the local farmers’ market. I was underwhelmed! The corn was good but it didn’t taste that much different from the traditional corn varieties.
I’ve been thinking about it and I have a few guesses why this Bodacious corn was just OK. I planted it after the longest day of the year and the plants didn’t get very big. I’m thinking there might be some effect of photoperiodism going on here. Because of the days getting shorter, the corn plants might have pushed to produce ears before they were full-grown and established. Also we’ve had a cool August. Corn does its best in the heat of summer and these corn plants developed ears during a time when it felt more like autumn. Also there’s always the possibility that I, as the under-fertilizer that I am (!), just didn’t fertilize the plants enough. Corn needs a lot of fertility to grow its best.
These things might have had an effect on the taste of the corn. But then again, maybe sugar enhanced corn is just a lot of hype! I don’t know at this point in time.
What I do know is that I want to try growing sugar enhanced corn again. While I can’t control the weather, next time I’ll plant the seeds in May once the soil has warmed. I’ll make sure to do a good job of preparing the soil and I’ll follow the fertilizer recommendations for corn. This should give it the best chance to be as good as it can be.
In other words, next year I’ll give Bodacious one more chance to prove that its name isn’t hyperbole!