Name: Gary Sweet (owner/operator, sweet’s gourmet sweet corn)
Location: Columbia Station, OH.
Number Of Years No-Tilling: 10
No-Tilled Crops: Sweet Corn
When we're asked if we “created” our name as a marketing strategy, we are quick to point out we’re the fourth generation of Sweets to grow sweet corn in northeastern Ohio. My great-grandfather Dermott Sweet started the operation in 1880, and for more than a century we were primarily a wholesale company.
It wasn’t until about 1995, in fact, that we started building name recognition for our product. Now every bag of corn we sell carries the Sweet’s Gourmet Sweet Corn label and the motto “The Taste Will Tell You — It’s Sweet’s.”
So, how does no-till fit into the story? In 1988 when a drought started to take a heavy toll on our producers, we were growing more than 2,500 acres of sweet corn. We were ranked as the largest producer east of the Mississippi River. Sweet’s supplied nearly all of the chain stores in Cleveland with bulk sweet corn and we were shipping three semi-loads a day to Florida during the peak season.
Unfortunately, it was a losing deal a lot of the time and we wound up making little more than we could have with commercial field corn.
We started to really take stock of our situation during the drought, when we couldn’t get enough irrigation water for conventional tillage and land costs were skyrocketing. It seemed…