A costumed character called Bob Cob has been created by the UK's largest sweetcorn grower to raise the crop's profile and increase consumption.

Barfoots of Botley, which has farms across Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, hopes the initiative has the potential to pull the industry together and create a specialist group similar to that for other horticultural crops.

Bob Cob was on parade last week at Barfoots' biannual Cornfest, held at Sefter Farm in West Sussex, and his Corn Bus has been touring holiday locations in southern England.

Barfoots' MD Graham Young said volumes would only be slightly down on last year. "Our sweetcorn crop has withstood the high temperatures well because we have our own irrigation. We are harvesting 50 acres a day and the season should last into October."

He still expects to sell 10,000 cobs per acre, compared with 12,000 in 2005.