Sweet Corn and Saw Timber

Well, we are finally finished with our sweet corn harvesting and will finish our timber thinning program this coming week. I know that everyone is familiar with the old expression,” sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you”. Well, the bear got us in the sweet corn business this season. We had high yields and great quality, but struggled with weak demand and low prices for almost our entire window of production. We finally got to the last ten days of harvest when both demand and prices strengthened, and then along came the storms and blew a lot of this spindly stuff to the ground.


Our Haitian harvesting crews call blown down sweet corn,”sleepy corn”. They do not like to pick it, but they will. Of course they charge more money for having to bend over so much and struggle with picking it off of the ground. Yield declines in blown down corn are inevitable. Our average crate per acre harvest dropped by about 100 crates to the acre in what was our best price market. As I was chatting with my close friend and partner yesterday about this business, he commented,” Isn’t it so much fun to work this hard to break even?” He also told me that I had made a joking but disparaging comment in an earlier blog when comparing my hunting guests to my harvesting crews; so let me set the record straight on that issue. My comments were meant as tongue-in-cheek. After re-reading it, I can see that it was insensitive. While our workforce of migrants are uneducated, they are some of the hardest working folks in the world. They do a job that no one else in this country could or would do. I will still stick to the fact that my mind will never be able to grasp” Haitian logic”. I do not and can not understand how they think, but they are some hard working human beings.


Perhaps if anyone in this business of growing sweet corn is not very bright, it is us farmers who continue to take huge risks each year growing what is annually becoming a more expensive crop with diminishing returns. I am beginning to ponder the risk/reward relationship in this business. A crop that once cost me about $500 per acre to grow now costs north of $1200 an acre to grow. It is much harder to walk by and skip harvesting a $1200 per acre planting due to weak demand than it was to skip a $500 per acre cost planting in the past.


On a more pleasant subject, God blessed us with great weather for a timber thinning program. We have stayed right behind the thinning operation with two big, rubber tired front end loaders. Our employees cleaned up and burned all of the debris left behind. We then came behind that operation and planted a bunch of different grasses on the bare land. Thanks to the abundant rains( some of which produced the storms that blew down the sweet corn), the grass has flourished, and healed the land. Honestly, if I did not know the areas that we had thinned, I would not be able to tell any logging operation had even occurred on those tracts.


Now I plan to ride out and look at these Taj Mahal kennels that Jerry and Cader IV are constructing for our English Cockers. I think that if I were one of our pointers, I would hire me a lawyer and file a class action discrimination lawsuit. So far, all I have seen is the bills for this project. I plan to look at the actual facilities this morning, and may reserve me a room there. Depending on how I get along with my wife this weekend, reserving a room might be mandatory rather than optional.


I hope everyone has a great weekend. Unless you have to come to South Georgia this weekend, I would advise you to stay well north of us. It’s going to be HOT down here this weekend!!