Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Corn thrives in Fairbanks, Alaska

Cameron Willingham, research technician, and Meriam Karlsson, horticulture professor, harvest corn at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm.

While the Midwest corn yields are suffering immensely due to the worst drought in 50 years, corn is thriving in, of all places, Fairbanks, Alaska.

At the Fairbanks Experiment Farm on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, Meriam Karlsson, horticulture professor, is not very surprised at the abundant corn crop. It's a little earlier than usual, but the ears are beautiful...and tasty.

"All it needs is heat," Karlsson said. She started the corn in the UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences greenhouse and got the transplants in the ground as early in May as she could. "It usually produces by the end of August so it's a little early," she said.

The corn is planted in raised beds and plastic mulch helps hold the heat in. "We only had to water a few times," Karlsson said. One thing out of her control is frost and once in a while during a summer when it arrives early it decimates the corn crop, but not this year.

"People think it's too cold, but we produced corn in 56 days," Karlsson said.

Varieties include Earlivee, Aladdin and Speedy Sweet.

Karlsson researches crops for northern climates and lighting conditions in controlled environments.

Corn ready to shuck and cook.

Earlivee corn in the field.
Cameron Willingham, research technician at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm, is delighted with the corn yield.

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