ROCHELLE — Jeff Seebach’s family has been growing and selling sweet corn at its stand for as long as the 47-year-old can remember.
Seebach's Sweet Corn opened for business on Wednesday of this past week. The stand at 11594 E. Kyte Road is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The family can be reached at 815-213-5229 or 815-562-7561. Squash, cucumbers and tomatoes are also sold at the stand. Large orders of sweet corn should be called in ahead of time.
"The corn was ready,” Jeff said. “I was hoping for last week but it was way too young and we gave it several days and it came on. It's usually around this time every year. With the cooler weather earlier in the year, it slowed it down. Sweet corn loves the heat and humidity. That moves it up fast and cool nights really slow it down.”
Seebach has been fielding questions since June about when he thought the corn would be ready for sale. He usually doesn’t know until just days before. He said he doesn’t keep track of the hours he puts into sweet corn, but said it’s “quite a few.”
He works from home and takes vacation for the first week of sweet corn when it’s at its busiest. His employer works with him so he can pick when he needs to. Jeff’s stepmother, Christy, usually handles selling at the stand.
“I just come out and do what needs to be done,” Jeff said. “It's constantly going. By the time you're done picking, planting and working the ground to prepare it. We spray it and put up an electric fence all the way around it. I would say you can put in as much time as you want on it. I could put in 100 hours and someone could work 50 and still have almost the same result.”
Seebach said the sweet corn stand means “quite a bit” to him and his family. His father, Jerry, started the business that also includes pumpkins in the fall. Jerry also grew strawberries but set that aside due to its labor-intense nature.
Jerry passed away in 2019 and his sons have carried on the work.
“It's kind of a family tradition,” Christy said. “It's a fun thing to do. It's a lot of work for Jeff and a lot of hours. Jerry started it years ago and I think he did it to help supplement his income and pay the taxes on it. He passed away and Jeff is carrying on the sweet corn and Scott is doing the pumpkins. They help each other.”
Jerry Seebach enjoyed selling sweet corn and pumpkins most of all because of the interactions with customers. Jeff recalled the pride he took in selling to people all the way from Chicago and one customer that took 15-20 dozen ears back with him to Washington D.C.
“He probably wouldn't have sold sweet corn if he couldn't talk to people when they stop,” Jeff said. “People enjoyed it. As long as people are enjoying it and keep coming out, we're going to keep doing it. He set it up and I watched him and learned from him.”
Christy said there are people who have been coming to the stand to buy sweet corn for 20-30 years. A lot are neighbors. She’s seen kids grow up and now come back to buy corn as adults.
Jeff sees people around town that he recognizes, but doesn’t know personally. People that are customers every year.
When Jeff was a kid, picking and selling sweet corn was his summer job. They used to sell it right out of their garage. The first time he remembers selling, a dozen ears cost 50 cents. There used to be only two varieties sold. Now it’s five.
The sweet corn season lasts about 4-6 weeks. It’s done in separate plantings so corn keeps coming in over that time.
“My dad used to do just do one planting,” Jeff said. “We used to have one acre and now we do three. It's right around here and we keep an eye on it. It's easy to bring it right up here and sell it.”