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Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Story of Corn: As Told by a 4-year-old.

You may remember my post written this summer, The Story of Wheat: As Told by a 3-year-old.

Well this fall Cameron turned 4! He also got to see corn harvest at our farm. Irrigated corn is the main crop that we harvest and by the end of the season our combines have shelled close to 1 million bushels of this crop. Remembering what a bushel is, that is a lot of corn! Today while traveling to my hometown with my nephews in tow, we passed the John Deere dealership in a nearby town. Cameron spotted a combine with a corn header on it. This brought on the story of corn, and it goes a bit like this:

(his words, not mine, and you are lucky it's my spelling!)

  1. Corn is a kernel and Papa's tractors plant it in the dirt in rows.
  2. Papa has to water the corn to get it to grow.
  3. We eat corn when the petals are green, but cows eat it when the petals turn brown.*
  4. When the corn turns all brown Papa can cut it with a combine.
  5. He has to put a corn header on the combine, it's the pointy one, not the round one!**
  6. The combine pours corn into the grain cart.
  7. The grain cart dumps it into a big big truck.
  8. The truck takes the corn to the elevator.
  9. The elevator loads up train cars that will take some of the corn to the cows for them to eat.
  10. That's the story of corn, Tera, yep that is the story of corn.
*Here he is referring to the sweet corn that he likes to eat so much. I wrote a post about the difference between sweet and field corn a while back. You should check it out if you haven't read it. Our farm grows only about one acre of sweet corn. Just enough for our family and friends to enjoy. Sweet corn is ready in July usually and the leaves (or petals!) are still green when we hand pick it. The rest of the corn crop is field corn and it is harvested in September by large combines when the leaves have turned brown.

**A combine is a large piece of machinary that harvests grain crops. It will cut the plant, take in and separate the pieces of grain and shoot out the extra stems and leaves. Combines come with removeable heads that are designed to harvest different crops. The most common one you will see is called a grain platform or standard header. It is used to cut cereal grains. Most farmers use a specialized corn header to harvest corn. Cameron sure loves combines!

This is a combine with a standard header attached to it. Cereal grains are harvested with this header and are things like wheat, rice, oats, and barley and are referred to as staple crops because they produce more food worldwide than any other crop.

This is a combine with a corn header attached to it. Now you can see the pointy things Cameron was referring to!



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