Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sweet Corn Dilemmas

Ahhhh... sweet corn. It's definitely one of my favorite fresh-from-the-garden vegetables. A few minutes of boiling, a small pat of butter, and I'm in absolute heaven. Maybe it comes from being born at the height of corn season, maybe not. This is my first year growing my own sweet corn, and I've finally run into my first real problem (excluding the squirrels): bitter corn.

The kids and I had the three ears in the picture for dinner last week. Two of the ears were tasty and near perfect, but one tasted sour. It was the first ear to ripen and had large, plump, well formed kernels. The variety is Golden Bantam. Anyone have any ideas?

As I was googling every variation of "sweet corn tastes bitter", my neighbor called me over to his house. He was holding an entire stalk of corn, roots dangling and pole beans still rambling up its height. The ear of corn was very small and not near to being ripe. "There's something looking at me from inside this ear of corn!"

Oh, great.

So I gingerly peel back the layers. Nothing's moving, but there's a large, soft white mass inside. Beneath the somewhat translucent white exterior, I could see a muddy, granular, black interior. "Looks like a fungus to me. I've never seen it before though, so I'll look it up on the laptop later."

The result:

Corn smut, or Ustilago maydis

Hopefully, they'll follow the instructions I printed out for them and destroy the ears. Now I'm wondering if I'll find any galls on my corn. I hope not because I'm planning to serve some to my two best girlfriends who are coming for my birthday! I can't wait to see them...