By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau: Did you know that Arizona grows the best sweet corn! Well, we (Arizona natives) think so. And, it certainly is sweet.
Iowa isn’t the only place to eat some yummy sweet corn, even if my relatives from this great Midwestern state might argue the point (My mom, originally from Iowa, will certainly argue with me on the topic). Arizona agriculture’s Maricopa County farmers are planting in February and March to serve up delicious sweet corn by early summer.
The sweet corn season is in full swing!
In fact, Central Arizona’s sweet corn season runs late May to Mid-July. Then the harvesting moves north and south. Specifically, northern and southern Arizona’s season runs mid-July to as late as September. Depending on the sweet corn variety, sweet corn can be ready for harvest in 65 to 90 days.
And, sweet corn farming is a farm family affair with at least four to six of our farm families heavily committed to summer sweet corn farming:
This fast growing summer crop is native to the Americas and is full of nutrients. Sweet corn is cholesterol free, a good source of vitamin C and A, Potassium, Thiamine and Fiber; plus it’s high in antioxidants.
My top 14 favorite facts about sweet corn are a celebration of this summer food!
- Sweet corn is the third most important crop in the world.
- The tassel at the top of a corn stalk is the male flower. It releases millions of grains of pollen, and some of that pollen is caught by the corn silk on the ear, which is the female flower.
- There is one piece of silk for each kernel of corn.
- The average ear of corn has 500 to 1000 kernels, arranged in an even number of rows, typically 16. A corn stalk can grow 7 to 10 feet tall over its lifetime.
- Corn is native to the Americas.
- The earliest known evidence of domesticated corn is 8000 B.C. in what is now the Rio Balsas region of Mexico, grown by ancient Indians.
- Indirect evidence suggests corn may have been domesticated even earlier, perhaps 10,000 years ago!
- The word "corn" originally referred to other grains — often whichever grain was the most important within a given region.
- In England, corn meant their primary crop of wheat. In Ireland and Scotland, the same word meant oats. Some Germans refer to rye as "korn."
- Early American settlers referred to "corn on the cob," or "corn" as we know it today.
- Where did corn's scientific name come from? Columbus and Spanish explorers acquired the name "maize" for this crop from Taino Indians of the Caribbean region, and that word was later translated into Greek: Zea mays.
- Corn is cholesterol free.
- It’s a good source of vitamin C and A, potassium, thiamine and fiber, and it’s very high in antioxidants. Corn on the cob and cut corn is a 100% whole grain.
- Corn is high in natural sugars/starches, as well as amino acids, and when combined with beans or other legumes, it can provide a balanced protein.
While the sweet corn season is fairly short, along with watermelon, it ushers in summer fun like no other food. Arizona Farm Bureau’s Fill Your Plate features a variety of farmers selling sweet corn this summer.
Our new “Celebrate Arizona Sweet Corn” tells the sweet corn story in Arizona agriculture and features the farmers that grow it.
Come get some fresh, local sweet corn while you can!