0

A memory of corn season: Fear not the worm, Virginia Beach

a corn earworm, a common agricultural pest, but one of Skipper’s customers thought it might just be onto something many years ago. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

The corn earworm, a common agricultural pest, but one of farmer Bill Skipper’s customers thought it might just be onto something many years ago. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

THE INDEPENDENT NEWS

PUNGO —Earlier this summer, before the sweet corn season faded, Winky Henley and Bill Skipper of Skipper Farms traded a few notes at Henley Farms.

“Seems like a couple of weeks ago we couldn’t sell corn,” Henley said at the family market on Charity Neck Road. “Now everybody wants corn.”

That’s the way of the business.

At the time, farmers had contended with recent heat.

“It’s either too wet or too dry, or it’s too hot or too cold,” Henley said. “You ask a farmer, and they’re going to give you one of those four answers.”

The men talked about the colors of corn – yellow, bicolor and white – and what preferences seem to say about customers.

Preference can suggest where the person is from, Skipper said.

Bicolor corn, with both white and yellow kernels, seems to be in demand for stands that draw a lot of tourists, but white corn is a popular sweet corn at a number of places.

Some folks have unusual ways of finding the sweetest ears.

Skipper recalled a customer perhaps two decades ago who visited him regularly at a location along Battlefield Boulevard in Chesapeake.

“We would put the corn in a trailer and take it to market,” he said, noting that customers would look through the trailer to pick their ears.

It should be noted that corn earworms are a fact of life in the country, but some people who aren’t used to that sort of thing just can’t get past them.

“If they would find a worm, they would toss the whole ear to the front of the trailer,” he said. “Usually after that they would give a little scream. She would come to buy corn regularly and get the ones with the worms.”

He figured it was for economic reasons, since he might give her a price break. But curiosity got the best of him one time. He asked why she always bought those ears of corn that seemed to attract the worms?

“The worms knew the ears that are sweetest,” he said, recalling her explanation. 

“She wanted the sweetest ears.”

Farmer Bill Skipper is seen during a visit to Henley Farms in late July. His farm has locations in Chesapeake and at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market. [John-Henry Doucette/The Independent News]

Farmer Bill Skipper is seen during a visit to Henley Farms in late July. His farm has locations in Chesapeake and at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market. [John-Henry Doucette/The Independent News]

Farmer Winky Henley of Pungo is seen this summer, when corn sales were brisk at the family’s locations in Pungo despite a recent heatwave. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Farmer Winky Henley of Pungo is seen this summer, when corn sales were brisk at the family’s locations in Pungo despite a recent heatwave. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]


© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

The Independent News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *