[Market-farming] GM sweet corn

Shoemaker, William H wshoemak at illinois.edu
Thu Oct 31 10:44:18 EDT 2013


There are a number of pests of sweet corn that need to be controlled, but the insect larval worms are the most difficult for organic producers. The two primaries are European Corn Borer and Corn Earworm. Since the grain corn industry has shifted to GMO Bt corn, European Corn Borer has become a negligible problem. But Corn Earworm is still difficult. Knowing insect behavior and monitoring with pheromone traps can go a long way toward controlling it organically, though not completely.

In northern Illinois we have 2-3 generations of the insect infest sweet corn. The first is an "overwintering" population. If winters are really cold and snowfall light, these may be negligible. But they can still be a problem because they have a primary target, fresh sweet corn silks. Sweet corn usually silks before field corn, so the first generation has only sweet corn to lay eggs on. Eggs hatch quickly and the larvae crawl into the tip of the ear quickly, where they are protected from sprays and predators, like trichogamma. I'm not sure you'll get much benefit from the wasp.

The second generation gets diluted because the field corn attracts many of the moths. But if the wave of moths from southwest cotton fields is high, they can be a big problem in sweet corn. The third generation usually occurs in mid-August. It can be catastrophic.

Between these waves of adult moths flying in, the adult populations diminish to almost nothing. That can make worm-free production possible organically. So trapping will give you those windows of production just by monitoring. For control during adult waves, check out Johnny's Seeds. They have a system for small producers that is labor-intensive. You must apply an oil-and-Bt spray to the silks. But it can be effective.

Bill
William H. Shoemaker
Retired fruit and vegetable horticulturist
University of Illinois
wshoemak at illinois.edu

________________________________________
From: market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] on behalf of Etienne Goyer [etienne at lejardinduvillage.ca]
Sent: Thursday, October 31, 2013 9:19 AM
To: market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] GM sweet corn

Thanks for the info.

I am considering trying growing sweet corn next year on a small-scale as
a pilot project.  The demand is strong, but the price uninteresting.  I
want to test the market, and see if people are willing to 1. pay more
than they currently do for local, non-GMO, unsprayed sweet corn (not
certified so cannot call myself organic), and 2. accept that an ear or
two a dozen may contain a worm.  I will have to do so some work on crop
budgeting to make sure I don't make a loss, but I am considering pricing
in the 8$/dz range.  I am also considering using trichogram wasp for
worm control.  The growing part will be a challenge; I have plenty of
space to grow, but the climate here is not exactly the best for sweet
corn.  We'll see how it goes.

I do not know much about american consumer's culture, but I can tell you
that around here, if you where to label your corn as "genetically
modified", you would not sell a single ear.  I am not saying it's
rational, and I fully agree that is in contradiction with demanding
perfect corn.  But I think that there is definitely a market opportunity
here, although customer education is key to getting into it.  It's
important for me to be truthful about the claims I am making, hence why
I am trying to confirm the information I want to use in marketing my own
crop (in that case, that store-sold sweet corn import from the US is
likely to be GM).

Anyway, this may or may not pan out.  I have very many projects on the
burner, so whether or not I go ahead with growing sweet corn in 2014
remains to be determined.  I will let you know guys how it works out, if
indeed I go ahead with this.

Thanks again!

Etienne



On 13-10-31 09:41 AM, Richard Stewart wrote:
> A majority of the bulk big box store sweet corn is indeed Bt.  Around us
> its about half and half…half Bt and half sprayed about 4 too 6 days.  I
> have yet to meet an organic grower that consistently grows great yummy
> sweet corn where they have it available from July to September.
>
> I am not saying they do not exist.  The closest I have found is the guy
> we work with that is light spray and only sprays once they see an large
> outbreak of ear worm and then its only spot.  They are smart and reserve
> their sprays to outbreaks and infestations like the three generations
> before them understanding that insects develop tolerance.  Nothing
> remotely organic though.  THey told me they tried it one year and they
> pretty much had to absorb the cost on the corn that was damaged.  Folks
>  go through and look for ear worms.  I remember it being my childhood
> duty to break off tips.
>
> I'll argue that Bt is as consumer driven as GMO products come.
>
> Richard Stewart
> Carriage House Farm
> North Bend, Ohio
>
> An Ohio Century Farm Est. 1855
>
> (513) 967-1106
> http://www.carriagehousefarmllc.com
> rstewart at zoomtown.com <mailto:rstewart at zoomtown.com>
>
> You can follow us on Facebook or on Twitter @CarriageHsFm
>
> */P/*lease consider the environment before printing this e-mail
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On Oct 30, 2013, at 9:31 PM, Etienne Goyer <etienne at lejardinduvillage.ca
> <mailto:etienne at lejardinduvillage.ca>> wrote:
>
>> Hi everyone,
>>
>> It's been recently reported that GM sweet corn is now being sold in
>> Canada.  In one article I've read on the topic, it's claimed that the
>> majority of sweet corn grown in the US have been GM for a while.  I
>> doubt that claim.  Is it actually true?  Is there any statistic about
>> this available online?
>>
>> Note that I am talking specifically about *sweet* corn, not grain or
>> silage corn.
>>
>> Thanks for the info!
>>
>>
>> --
>> Etienne Goyer  -  Le Jardin du Village
>> http://lejardinduvillage.wordpress.com
>>
>> "Changer le monde, une betterave à la fois"
>>
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--
Etienne Goyer  -  Le Jardin du Village
http://lejardinduvillage.wordpress.com

"Changer le monde, une betterave à la fois"

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