How Tall is Your Corn?

“Knee high by the Fourth of July” used to be the benchmark for farmers trying to determine whether their corn crop was on track.

And once upon a time, it was accurate.

That was before. Now, thanks to technology, farmers are able to plant their crops earlier, the seeds are sturdier, and the plants respond.

Check out this plot of field corn (used for animals, not humans):

Corn plants growing in rows

Corn plants growing in rows

Obviously, you can’t really gauge how tall these plants are by that photo, so let’s take a closer look, okay?

Corn beside yardstick

Corn beside yardstick

You can’t tell from that one either? Well, gee, here I am, sneaking around in a hot cornfield, scared a snake would slither across my shoes while I was hunkering down with the measuring stick, and you’re going to complain??

Alright, then, try this one:

Closeup of corn measurement

Closeup of corn measurement

You’re welcome.

By the way, ALL these photos were taken yesterday (June 6, 2014).

And now, forgive me while I violate the long-standing writer’s rule to show, don’t tell — I know you can’t see the top of the corn leaves, so I’ll just tell you. If I’d folded the leaves together and photographed them next to my handy-dandy yardstick, they’d measure 36 inches.

One full yard tall!

Back to our saying — “Knee high by the Fourth of July.”  My knee is about 20 inches from the ground (I’m 5’5.5″). Take my word on this; I’m NOT photographing my leg next to a yardstick!

The point is — our Illinois corn is going to be w-a-a-a-a-y taller than knee-high by the time the Fourth of July arrives.

And that’s a good thing, for all of us, don’t you agree?

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18 thoughts on “How Tall is Your Corn?

  1. You were out sneaking around corn fields with your measuring stick? I think there is a spot for you on Mythbusters. And as long as they aren’t using Monsanto products to grow that corn faster, I think it is very good indeed! I love fresh corn!
    Good job Debbie and I am so glad you did not meet up with a corn snake!

    • The corn plot I picked is used for animal feed, so it’s not sweet corn. There are no signs in the field (that I could see) telling what kind of seed the farmer used. I’m not rural enough to be able to determine whether this is genetically modified or not, but I share your concerns. Entirely too much of that going on, in my opinion!

    • I think we’re going to have to wait a bit for the sweet corn, Kim. The feed corn for animals takes precedence, I’m afraid. And from what I’ve learned, some fields are planted for popcorn, too. So much about corn that, despite growing up in the Midwest, I just don’t know!

  2. “Well, gee, here I am, sneaking around in a hot cornfield, scared a snake would slither across my shoes while I was hunkering down with the measuring stick.”

    HAHAHAHAHA! Debbie, that’s hilarious and sounds like something I would do to get a picture for a blog post!

    And WOW….36 inches!?!? That’s amazingly tall!

    And OMG…do you have any idea how much I love corn on the cob, smeared with real butter and sprinkled with salt? I could probably eat a half a dozen easily. That’s one of the greatest highlights of summer….corn on the cob! Oh and also….watermelon. I adore it!

    Fun post, my friend! Hope you’re having a fab Saturday!

    • I used to LOVE corn on the cob, too, Ron, but after I moved away from the Midwest, I got out of the habit of eating it (and my stomach rebelled when I tried to remedy that oversight!). But yes, buttered corn is so American. Popcorn, too. Try going to the movies and NOT ordering a bucket of buttered, salted popcorn!

      I guess I’ll just have to eat my weight in watermelon. And peaches — can hardly wait for them to ripen!

      Happy weekend to you, my friend!

  3. Well, it depends. If those extraordinarily fine crops are compliments of genetically modified seed, and/or the liberal use of pesticides and fertilizers, I’m not such a fan. There’s a reason that “knee high by the 4th of July” has been a benchmark – that’s what midwest corn does, if it’s allowed to grow naturally.

    Down here, of course, things are different. By the 4th of July, the harvest can be on. Our corn’s already taller than I am in some fields, although it’s going to be a little while before the sweet corn comes in. That’s what I’m waiting for – sweet corn and tomatoes!

    • Good points, Linda. I’m sorry I don’t have the answer to your unspoken questions, though. Most farmers have feed company signs outlining their fields, but this one did not. I’ve seen him run his equipment over the plot, but that doesn’t tell me what he’s using. And regardless whether he’s planted this crop for animals or humans, the end result (if the seed was genetically modified) is going to be the same.

      Here, farmers used to use May 20 as the target date for planting. Obviously, they try to get out in the fields as early as they can, never knowing when a stab of winter will present itself. You’re blessed to have a longer growing season!

      I’m waiting for fresh tomatoes and peaches. And green beans. Those say “summer” to me!

  4. I’m glad that there are places where summer produce is maturing sooner rather than later. I think the “knee high by fourth of July” rule might still be fairly true up here in the more northern parts of the country. But there’s a local “corn man” who sells sweet corn from the back of his truck throughout the summer here, and we’re always anxious for his arrival. He always tells us where the corn comes from. It’s from the more southern states initially, and gradually comes from places closer to home. But it’s always delicious!

    • We kind of do the same thing with apples, Terri, only in reverse. They come from Michigan first, then Washington, and I can almost eat my weight in them!

      Isn’t it neat how the “corn man” makes a living selling stuff right from his truck? We have lots of those guys (and even some women!) who sell stuff from Indiana — melons, tomatoes, squash, etc. I never knew why their crops matured before ours (must have a milder climate!)

    • Well, Professor, from what I gather, they use this kind of corn for ethanol, livestock feed, and bio-based products like carpet and even makeup. So yes, I suppose there’s a HUGE need for more corn. As for the sweet corn, well, we’re going to have to wait a bit longer for that!

  5. “Oh what a beautiful morning…the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye…” Looking at your photos reminded me of that song. I love corn. Enjoy yours! How will you eat it, boiled, baked or grilled on the barbie? The latter is my favorite way to enjoy it but I rarely get to eat it that way. Sigh.

    • I’ve never had grilled corn, Monica, but I’ll take your word that it’s yummy. This is mostly feed corn for animals; they plant special sweet varieties for humans. Since the ears haven’t even shown up yet, it’s going to be a while before anybody gets to eat some!

  6. Haha, loved the pics and that you’d sneak onto a corn field to capture them. I also had to laugh that you drew the line at photographing your leg. I like sweet corn with a nice steak, but my favorite corn is ground into tortillas! (I can eat those any day…)

    • Glad you got a chuckle over my sneaking — I’d never have been brave enough to do it, had the plants been six feet tall! I’m with you, I love tortillas. I never knew what I’d been missing til I lived in Texas and could eat Mexican food on a regular basis!

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