Sunday, June 30, 2013

Corn (!) and beneficial insects

Ooo! Ooo! The very first bicolor SIW corn was picked today and available in limited supply at the stand. I'm happy to announce summer is officially here. You early birds have the best chance of snagging a corny dinner's worth, at least in the beginning of corn season.

honey bee doin' her thing (bottom left).

Earlier in the season, H.G. treated the corn with beneficial insects- specifically Trichogramma ostriniae - a tiny stingless wasp kind of "fruit fly-esque". These tiny wasps hatch out a card that looks like one of those "do not disturb" door hangers and set off into the corn field, laying eggs inside the eggs of pesky corn eaters. They're parasitic, ya see. The eggs in these cards are way smaller than poppy seeds, for reference. 

Eventually the pressure of those moths gets too great for the tricogramma to make a significant difference. H.G. asked me to handle the last application last week. It felt a little like an adventure to implant thousands of these bad girls into the fields while they could still make a difference. 

Attaching a card of tricogramma to a corn plant.
Fun fact I learned on the farm tour on June 20th: On average, one corn plant will produce less than one ear of corn! How is this possible, you ask? In a few rows of corn, you'll find some plants with nothing (takin' up precious real estate if you ask me), some plants with a single ear, and some with two ears (with 2, they can fully appreciate Sylvio's piano playing).

Standing amidst hundreds of future dinners (and lunches and snacks!)

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