Some of central Illinois farmer Dan Crider’s corn fields are not like the others, but you probably would not be able to detect the difference unless you peeked under the husks.
For more than 25 years, the Crider family has grown food grade white corn used to make tortillas and tortilla chips on about one-fourth to one-third of their farm.
“The first year we grew white corn, I said ‘It looks like we’re harvesting snow’,” says Anne Crider, Dan’s wife.
Throughout the growing season, white corn plants look pretty much the same as the more typical yellow varieties, but at harvest time a truckload of white kernels stands out in contrast to the more typical golden colored grain.
Dan’s sons Jason, 31, and Chris, 26, both hold full-time jobs off the farm currently, but make time to help their dad, especially during harvest.
The white corn is stored in a grain bin on the Crider farm until it is time to deliver it to The Anderson’s in Mansfield, a grain elevator that specializes in food grade corn.
“Food grade corn must meet standards for moisture, higher test weight and a low percentage of cracked or broken kernels. We also inspect for insect or rodent damage and test for mycotoxins,” says Leo Andruczyk, Regional Food Manager with The Anderson’s. Mycotoxins are types of harmful mold caused by fungi that can sometimes be found in grain.
“Being food grade is fairly rigid,” Andruczyk says. “Anything that doesn’t meet the standards is rejected.”
Conditions throughout the growing season like rainfall and temperature determine yield, so farmers do not know how exactly how many bushels they have until harvest time.
To fill his contract for a specific number of bushels of white corn, Dan decides how many acres to plant based on estimates, experience from previous years and the type of seed selected.
“The elevator provides us a list of approved seed varieties [for food grade white corn] to choose from,” Chis says. “We purchase the seed and plant one of those varieties.”
The production costs for white corn are similar to yellow corn and growing it uses the same machinery.
“White corn used to have lower yields, but not really anymore.” Dan says. “Some years the white corn out yields the yellow and some years it’s the other way around.”
To see a corn comparison and see more of the story, click here to check out the complete article from McLean County Farm Bureau.