In 2009, the Midwest Food Processors Association asked University of Illinois associate professor of crop sciences and USDA-ARS ecologist Marty Williams to conduct research on the relationship between plant populations and profitability in processing sweet corn. As a result of his research, Dr. Williams reports that higher yield and profitability are possible with greater plant populations of certain hybrids. This is the first research on this topic since the mid-1960s.
Williams explains, – the priorities of processing sweet corn are quite different than fresh-market sweet corn. Unlike fresh-market sweet corn, ear size and appearance don’t really matter in processing sweet corn. What’s important is how many cases of sweet corn are produced per acre. In his research Williams said none of the hybrids came close to optimal plant populations of field corn.
According to Williams, – the sweet corn hybrid itself has a major effect on profitability. The gross profit margin to processors varied 15-hundred dollars an acre among hybrids. Williams says – if I were growing sweet corn under contract, I’d want to know the hybrid, since profit to the grower varied as much as 211 dollars per acre among the varieties tested. More research is needed.