My first experience growing cannery sweet corn in the Fraser Valley came in the spring of 1973. I was hired by York Farms to supervise the production of almost 2,000 acres of sweet corn for the York Farm Cannery in Sardis. About 400 acres were grown on Seabird Island, just east of Agassiz. I believe that Henry Wigand also grew some cannery sweet corn in Agassiz during this time.
Mike Yusko, Farmer, 2017.
Throughout the twentieth century, Agassiz farmers amassed and cleared acre upon acre of land. With the assistance of the scientists at the Agassiz Research Station, they experimented in producing different varieties of sweet and field corn. Sweet corn was first grown as a commercial crop in Agassiz in 1941.
Mike Yusko of the BC Dairy Historical Society shared his agricultural work experience in the eastern Fraser Valley with the Curator of the Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society. He recalled that the soil and climate in Agassiz was very conducive for growing corn and that sweet corn requires more care and attention than field corn. Mike’s family planted two varieties of sweet corn: Mello-Gold for canning and Jubilee for freezing.
Mike noted that field preparation was required to develop a good seed bed. The fields were ploughed, disced twice, and cultivator-packed. Sweet corn seed was planted in rows 24 inches wide; each seed was planted six inches from its neighbour. The seed rows needed to be straight and spaced properly to accommodate the width of the harvester heads.