Corn season is here and Brittany Demezier from the Dubuque County ISU Extension & Outreach checked in this morning to drop some knowledge nuggets on us about corn and melons!

The first thing I learned is that there are actually four different types of corn. The first is sweet corn, which we all know and love every summer in the Midwest. The second is dent (or field) corn, which is typically used for feeding cattle and processed corn products (like corn syrup). Then there's popcorn and Indian corn.

If you're trying to do corn in your own garden, Brittany says the last practical day to plant is July 1st. She says corn needs a certain amount of growing-degree days, because heat and water are what really make our corn kernels to pop and form and get that really sweet taste. July 1st is the date that should give us just enough days of heat to get the optimum corn crop.

If you are planting corn, Brittany suggested using a decent space to plant. (It is pretty big, after all.) Corn is wind pollinated. The tassels on the top contains the pollen and the silk is what creates the kernel. She also suggests rotating your field year to year. If you plant corn in one spot this year, move it to a different plot next year. This will eliminate any issues you have with past disease and insect damage. Make sure you have enough rows for ample pollination.

If you're in a hurry, Brittany says using the microwave is a slick shortcut to save some time. Put an ear in for four minutes, use a hot pad to hold it down and cut off the end and the ear should slide right out!

Freezing corn is a great idea so you can have some of that delicious corn all year long.

As for melons, Brittany says we should be seeing a bumper crop beginning this week. Muskmelons will be here soon and watermelons will start popping up by the end of July.

So how do you know which one is ripe? Don't knock them! Brittany says this tells you NOTHING!

With watermelon, look for the yellow spot on it. This is the indicator as to where it was laying on the ground. The darker the spot, the more ripe the melon.

As for cantaloupe and muskmelon, look at the netting. The more similarly colored, evenly tan lines will indicate the melons ripeness.

I asked if the sweetness factor is a guessing game or if there is a way to tell you're into a good batch. Brittany said it can be variety and weather dependent. If you're produce is irrigated well, it should produce good flavor.

Next Wednesday (7.21), Brittany will be hosting a FREE virtual seminar called Lets Plant a Garden 2.0. from 7 to 8pm! It's a chance to learn some great tips on how to best produce from your own garden. I attended the first class in the spring and got some great pointers... I would definitely recommend it if you'd like to have a nicer garden. You'll even have a chance to type questions and have them answered.

If you want to sign up, you can visit the EXTENSION FACEBOOK PAGE to sign up. (Once you do, Brittany will send you the Zoom link and sign on information.)

I finished by asking Brittany when is the best time to put my seeds in the ground for pumpkins this fall. She said you have to do those very early in the spring, so I've already missed the boat!

Enjoy your corn and melons this summer! Thanks again to Brittany for visiting this morning!

~Chris Farber

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