Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Knee-High by the 4th of July

The old saying is that corn should be "knee high by the 4th of July". That saying should now say "tasseled by the 4th of July".

The reason why farmers can grow enough corn (and other grains like wheat, oats, & soybeans), is that science has helped us have plants with a higher yield. We have eliminated different diseases and things that slow down plant growth. We have better herbicides and insecticides that are safer, better for the environment, and we use less of them to produce more. Additionally, we've learned more about what plants needs in order to grow well; exactly what combination of nutrients and at what times help them grow. Some of this has been done through simple selective breeding techniques (breeding the best plants together to get the best hybrids), some by production practices (spacing of rows, tillage methods), some by bigger equipment that gets done faster (bigger planters allow us to plant more acres in a single day, & corn that is planted earlier tends to yield more, as well as GPS allows us to plant straighter & not waste seed), and, yes, some of this improvement comes from "GMOs" (Genetically-Modified Organisms). There has been a lot of bad publicity and concerns about the process of genetically modifying corn, which is a very simple way that genes from other plants are added to the corn. Our family feels that this is such a safe process that we eat products from our corn and feed it to our cows, and we have made a very strong commitment to only do what's best for our cows. All of these practices on our farm allow us to take care of our land, do more with less in this tight economy, and create the best environment for the crops that we grow.

We are well past Knee High right now!  We are always at the mercy of Mother Nature though.  We finally got some much-needed rain on Monday, and although it came with too much wind, our corn fields were not affected. Some of our farmer friends were not as lucky as their corn was damaged by the wind. With any luck, everything will work out for all of us and Mother Nature will give a nice rain as our corn starts to pollinate and make ears the next few weeks.

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