Storm flattens local corn crop

Written by Garrett Simmons

Thursday, 11 July 2013 20:29

When the calendar turns to August, there’s one thing southern Albertans can look forward to — the start of Taber corn season.  Vendors line the streets with booths selling fresh market corn in a  scene that’s become a local tradition.
That’s all in serious jeopardy this year, however, as Friday-night’s hail storm that ripped through the Taber area will put a serious wrinkle in those plans.  “Most of us have been hit,” said Taber-area corn grower David Jensen.  “We only had one field that wasn’t hit.” Snapped corn stalks and devastated fields are common sights just  outside town, as Jensen added local growers are still assessing the  damage.  “There’s definitely going to be a problem,” he said regarding this  summer’s corn supply, as Jensen added some damaged fields may yet  yield some corn. “If some of it does come back, it’s going to be late.” From what he has heard, every grower was hit to some extent, some  worse than others. “Some are write offs. Some are just gone — there’s no two ways about it.” Jensen added he plans to be out Aug. 1 with fresh market corn, but  just how long Taber corn will be available, or in what quantities, are still a guess. But make no mistake, some of those clamouring  for corn will likely face a disappointing summer, as even before the hail, less corn was seeded this year compared to 2012. “Valgardson never grew any corn this year,” said Jensen, as he referred to local grower Gary Valgardson, whose trademark Valgardson super sweet corn has been sold for years in the area. “You take that out of the mix, and now with the hail, we will have some serious shortages.” Jensen estimated there were 150-200 fewer acres of corn seeded this  spring, but of the acres that were put in, he said 2013 was shaping up  to be a banner year. “It was the nicest crop we’ve had in 10 years. Overall, with potatoes  and everything it was the nicest, but that’s what happens.”