A South Jersey couple have claimed the Guinness World Record for the number of cobs on a cornstalk, thanks, they believe, to a squirrel.

Virginia and Matthew Jacovelli, of Deptford, don’t even plant corn, but do feed the wildlife in their yard. This year, they bought “Producer’s Pride” whole kernel corn for the squirrels.

When a stalk appeared in their garden — Matthew Jacovelli called it the work of a squirrel that buried it — the couple watered it to see what it would produce.

Usually a cornstalk will produce one or two ears, but the 29 cobs that appeared on the Jacovellis’ plant set a record, breaking the previous one of 16 set in 2009 in Swedesburg, Iowa.

“It was a mutant corn plant,” said Michelle Infante-Casella, the Rutgers University Agriculture and Natural Resources county agent who certified the number of ears on the stalk. “That’s not uncommon, but the number here — that was crazy.”

A closer look of some of the cobs on the record breaking cornstalk that sprouted in the yard of Matthew and Virginia Jacovelli in Deptford, N.J.
Rutgers University
A closer look of some of the cobs on the record breaking cornstalk that sprouted in the yard of Matthew and Virginia Jacovelli in Deptford, N.J.

Infante-Casella counted the stunted ears numerous times on video before certifying there were 29 that contained the required three elements of a cob, corn silks, and kernels.

It might have gone unnoticed outside Deptford except for Matthew Jacovelli’s curiosity.

“I was out here counting them one day, and I said, ‘I wonder what the record is,’ ” he told the Courier-Post. “I got to thinking it might be something neat for New Jersey.”

His daughter, Jean, called Guinness Book of World Records, and that set off the process that brought Infante-Casella to the house as an expert to establish that the claim had a kernel of truth. Guinness certified the record Aug. 30.

Matthew Jacovelli, in the meantime, plans to construct what he called a “corn coffin” with a plastic cover to show it.