Planting Field Corn

Hand Colored Engraving- Late 1700s

Harland finished planting the corn on Monday. He started about a week ago, and has worked at it most every day since, for about 12 hours each day.

 Each night he got home about 9:00pm- dirty, tired, hungry, and sore.  Tractors are not a comfortable ride, not after 12 hours a day anyway.

Last week, Harland asked me to bring home an 8lb container of baby powder from the local farm dealer.  It is mixed in with the seed corn so that it goes through the planter smoothly. Eight pounds of baby powder will cover a lot of little corn behinds.  (tee hee)

Some corn niblets of history:

  • Corn was domesticated from a type of grass about 12,000 years ago in Mesoamerica.
  • By 1500BC it was a staple food in North, Central and South America.
  • In the 15th century, after European contact with the Americas, traders and explorers introduced corn to Europe, where it was traded with other countries, and eventually made its way around the world.
  • Corn is now grown worldwide, and more is produced each year than any other grain.

We plant corn with the no-till method, meaning the seed is planted into the soil without the soil being plowed or tilled beforehand. This method helps to reduce soil erosion.

The green in this field is volunteer winter wheat, which germinated from a wheat crop grown here last year.

Last week, the field was sprayed with herbicide to kill the volunteer wheat.  Soon the wheat will be gone, leaving the field open for the growing corn.

Every once in a while, Harland stops the tractor to check the seed depth. Using his pocket knife, he digs down to the seed. The optimum depth is one and a half inches.

I rode with Harland in the tractor for a little while. Here’s the view looking ahead:

And looking behind down at the planter:

The yellow things on the planter are the seed boxes. Here’s what it looks like on the inside of the box:

Here’s a close-up of the seed.

It’s tinted red due to having been treated with insecticide, which will keep insects from eating the corn seed before it germinates. The little corn seeds can germinate in as little as 5 days.   The root will grow first, followed by the first leaves breaking the surface of the soil.

Ears of corn will develop in June, and the mature corn will be harvested in October.  I’ll have more posts as the corn grows.