Recognition of Neuville Sweet Corn (Maïs sucré de Neuville) as a PGI was granted on June 14, 2017 by the Ministre de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec in legal notice 66658 published in the Gazette officielle du Québec, volume 149, no. 24. Note that the designations Maïs de Neuville and Blé d’Inde de Neuville are also protected by law.
Corn growing in the Québec City area goes back many centuries. Around the year 1200, the Iroquois adopted it as their staple food. The first written record of corn growing in Neuville dates from 1668. Widespread growing of sweet corn in the province for consumption as a vegetable began with the appearance of the first canneries in the 1920s and 1930s.
From then on, the reputation of Neuville sweet corn grew steadily in the Québec City region. In the 1960s and 1970s, production and sales increased gradually until sweet corn became Neuville’s flagship product, recognized inside and outside the municipality. The product thus attained notoriety well beyond the region in which it is grown.
Careful land management adapted to the characteristic microclimate of Neuville
Natural conditions conducive to the growing of sweet corn (a mild climate, shelter from wind, a higher temperature sum than the rest of the Québec City region, and terraced loamy sand soil) favoured the exploitation of large fields of the cereal. The product is harvested at optimal ripeness and sold very quickly. It meets the expectations of consumers looking for sweet corn that is very sweet, tender and juicy when cooked.
At the start of every season, Neuville sweet corn comes onto the market a few days or a week ahead of sweet corn from elsewhere in the region. This early arrival gives it an advantage among buyers in terms of price and reputation. Neuville sweet corn is thus the first local early vegetable on offer on the stalls of Québec City markets.
Key certification requirements
Seedstock for Neuville Sweet Corn comes from non-genetically-modified varieties. It is picked by hand or harvested mechanically, but in either case, only ripe ears of corn are chosen. Then, Neuville Sweet Corn can be kept for no more than 12 hours without refrigeration, and a maximum of 48 hours when stored in a cold room. Once these time limits have expired, the product is off-grade.
Neuville Sweet Corn is characterized by brilliant-coloured grains ranging from yellow to ivory. The designation is reserved for the purposes of marketing as a fresh product ready for consumption.
Geographical area of the designation
Like the whole of the Québec City region, the Neuville area stands in a particular geographical situation. A number of factors have a bearing on the territory’s capacity to produce abundant, high-quality sweet corn that can be marketed as an early vegetable. In the Capitale-Nationale region, three of Québec’s geological provinces come together, their proximity shaping the diversity and features of the growing regions. They are, from north to south, the Canadian Shield, the fertile plain of the St. Lawrence Valley, and the Appalachian Formation. In the St. Lawrence Valley to the east of Québec City, the estuary of the St. Lawrence River tempers the climate in winter, makes it cooler during the summer and more humid year-round. This estuary climate stops at Cap-Rouge. Neuville, a short distance to the west of Cap-Rouge, is part of the fertile St. Lawrence Valley: it enjoys a warmer summer than the agricultural land farther east and an earlier spring than the municipalities to the north, thanks to a position providing south-facing shelter and contact with the St. Lawrence.
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