I’m All Ears: Corn Harvest 2016

As we come to the end of another season, we continue to be thankful for the blessings of a bountiful harvest. Our corn fields, like several other crops this year, saw great success thanks to all the unusual moisture we received over the course of the summer.

For more than a decade, we have had the great pleasure of working with Dave Christensen and his Painted Mountain indian corn and black-kernel Montana Morado maize. Dave is tireless in his meticulous dedication of breeding both corn varieties for a number of reasons—check out last year’s post regarding our corn harvest, for more information.

This year, we grew about 2-acres of the Painted Mountain and it is as beautiful and diverse as it sounds, its kernels coming in every color you can imagine, sometimes on the same cob. The Montana Morado, however, only took up about a ½-acre, which we sell to a very good friend and fellow organic farmer, Ole Norgaard. Ole uses the corn in his organic North Frontier Foods cornbread and pancake mixes—both of which come highly recommended! But he’s a farmer at heart and each year Ole comes out to the farm for a few days to help us put up a protective fence and hand-harvest the Morado, rain or shine.

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Compared to last year’s low harvest due to drought and weeds, Dave and my produce manager, Charley, realized pretty quickly more help would be needed if we were going to get our corn harvested before winter. So, we invited several friends and acquaintances to join us for a harvest day of good company and sunshine. They were mostly members of the Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO), Montana’s first association to really support organic agriculture. And considering the weather lately, including a few snow storms, we were taking a risk to set a date more than a few days ahead. But it turned out to be a beautiful, productive day and for each AERO member volunteer, we made a donation to their organization in appreciation for all their hard work.

Thus far—since Dave and Charley are still finishing up the shelling and cleaning process on the Painted Mountain—it’s turning out to be our best corn harvest to date! The end weight of the Morado maize we sold to Ole came out to be about 1,000 pounds. In comparison, last year, on the same amount of land, we were just shy of 200 pounds. And Charley estimates we will about double our Painted Mountain corn harvest compared to last year.

Although we had some challenges with the weather (too much rain) and some disease, especially on the spring grain, all in all we have truly been blessed this year and with Thanksgiving just around the corner, we have so much to celebrate and be grateful for.

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