Corn Knee High By the 4th of July
Corn, knee high by the 4th of July. That is a phrase I heard when I was growing up. I think it goes back to my grandfather's generation. It does not apply to today, but you still hear it. With today's modern corn genetics the phrase should be shoulder or head high by the 4th of July. I did not have time to check my corn on the 4th of July, but I was out there yesterday afternoon, July 5th. My corn was 6 feet tall. You will just have to trust that I did have the bottom of the tape measure on the ground.
Things are much different today than when my grandfather was farming. Back then you did not plant corn until later in May for a couple of reasons. By planting later you would work the fields a few times to kill flushes of weeds before you planted. Remember, they did not have herbicides to control weeds. In addition, back then the corn hybrids were not very cold tolerant. Corn is actually a warm-season grass. We saw this year it can get pretty cold in May. Over the decades one of the traits plant breeders screen for is cold tolerance and early season vigor.
Today we like to start planting corn by the middle of April if the soil conditions are fit. That is almost a month and a half before my grandfather planted corn. Even this year most of the corn was not planted until the end of the first week in May. The corn in the picture was planted on May 8 and you can see it is 6 feet tall. My grandfather would be amazed at the corn yields we see today. He was pleased at 80-100 bushels an acre. Last year many farmers saw yields well over 200 bushels an acre. Now that is progress!