(Sept. 11) Georgia’s smaller but longer fall sweet corn deal should produce acceptable yields, grower-shippers say. Sweet corn grower-shippers say buyers should expect volume to be similar to last year.

Planted acreage is expected to be similar to last year as well, grower-shippers say.

The state’s sweet corn deal is expected to begin Sept. 15 and continue through Thanksgiving or the first frost.

“If we don’t run into any Mother Nature problems, I imagine we will see good yields and a good return,” said Gibson Wilkinson Jr., salesman for Wilkinson-Cooper Produce Inc., Belle Glade, Fla., in mid-August. Wilkinson-Cooper Produce packs sweet corn out of its Camilla, Ga., facility, in southwest Georgia.


Prices this year are not as high as last fall, where cool mornings helped increase prices because of smaller seasonable expectations, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In mid-September, four dozen of yellow out of New York’s Hudson Valley sold for $8. White sold for $10 and bicolor for $9-10.

In mid-August, Georgia sweet corn prices were $4-5, said Wilkinson.

Last year, the season opened with wirebound crates 4- to 4½-dozen yellow and white selling for $7. By early October, bicolor wirebound crates 4- to 4½-dozen sold for $9-10. Towards the close of the season, in late October, wirebound crates 4- to 4½-dozen yellow and white had dropped to $6-7, and bicolor declined to $6.

Fall Georgia prices are dependent on conditions in the Northeast.

“If they (New York) get knocked out with a freeze or early frost, it could be a good deal for us,” said Rick Erwin, general manager of S.M. Jones & Co. Inc., Canal Point, Fla., which has a 700-acre sweet corn growing and packing operation in Bainbridge, Ga.

S.M. Jones & Co., which has three Georgia growers, packed nearly 1.5 million packages for the spring, a substantial increase in volume and yields, Erwin said. S.M. Jones & Co.’s Bainbridge operation has been running since 1998.

“You just get a lot more people growing (corn) now in Georgia,” Wilkinson said in explaining the lower prices this fall.


This year’s spring market ranged from $6-7 for 4- to 4½-dozen wirebound crates, said Carl Lynn, general manager of Sweet Corn Co-op Inc., Bainbridge.

“We had a real good spring season,” he said. “There were good markets and growing conditions. After the Fourth of July, prices got to $8-10. Everybody up here was out of corn.”

Retailer promotions and holidays are some of the reasons Georgia’s 90-day fall deal is smaller than its signature spring deal, grower-shippers say.

“You just don’t have the promos in the late fall months as you do for the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays, your two biggest holidays for sweet corn,” S.M. Jones & Co.’s Erwin said.

Northeastern retailers also don’t use the same volume of fall sweet corn, grower-shippers say.


Thanksgiving is the big holiday for fall sweet corn promotions.

“It seems everyone is switching from white to yellow to bicolor,” Sweet Corn Co-op’s Lynn said.

Bicolor fall plantings have also increased, grower-shippers say.

“The majority of the trade is talking more bicolor corn than anything else,” Wilkinson said.

Grower-shippers say appearance is the primary reason for increasing bicolor demand.

“Bicolor is about word of mouth and sight,” Wilkinson said. “The trade is turning on to it more.”

Despite its growing popularity, bicolor corn moves more in the spring than in the fall, some grower-shippers say.

“Bicolor is a big spring mover,” S.M. Jones’ Erwin said. “It’s increased over the years but it seems bicolor for the spring in Georgia was phenomenal as opposed to the previous year.”

S.M. Jones & Co. will keep this fall’s bicolor acreage similar to last fall, Erwin said.

During the spring, the company plants 2,200 sweet corn acres. Its fall deal, Erwin said, is drastically less.

The Sweet Corn Co-op, which has four growers, plants only 25% of its spring acreage during the fall season.


Georgia was the fourth leading sweet corn producing state for 2001, behind Florida, New York and California. The state produced 3.2 million cwt. in 2001. Acreage numbers are not yet available for 2002.

Georgia continues to plant and harvest more sweet corn. Planted acreage for the year overall was at its highest level in the 1990s for 2001 at 25,500 acres, a 41% increase from the early 1990s’ 15,000 acres. Harvested acres also increased 48% for the same time period. Total sweet corn production has swelled 64% from 1992 to 2001, according to the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service.