|Guinea fowl patrolling the outskirts of the corn patch.|
Several of you mentioned an interest in our field corn growing. This is our third year to grow it, but the first year to properly mineralize the soil beforehand. So far, corn has been the easiest grain for us to grow and process.
The variety I plant is Truckers Favorite. It's an heirloom variety that grows well in the southeastern U.S. I like it because the kernels are small enough to feed whole to our chickens. Ground, it makes very tasty cornbread.
I planted in double rows, sowing Ozark Razorback cowpeas in between. This works well because it gives the cowpeas something to grab on to, plus gives the corn a nitrogen boost.
|Ozark Razorbacks growing up corn stalks.|
Photo from "Pea Pickin'", September 2012
I harvested the corn early, before it was ready, because I began to find evidence that something was helping themselves!
|Possible culprits: opossums, raccoons, and squirrels|
Initially it was only an ear or two, but one day it was about half a dozen. It was a dilemma. Should I harvest early, even though it hadn't dried yet, in order to keep more from being eaten?
I opted to harvest early. It means I have to make sure the corn continues to dry before shelling and storage. It was a modest harvest.
|Pickings filled this 8 cubic foot wheelbarrow.|
We planted less than a quarter acre and some sections of that didn't grow, or was the seed eaten? Or was that the spot I ran out of seed and had to go get more. It's possible I accidentally grabbed a can of old seed. Then some got knocked down during a hard thunderstorm. And I think what did grow would have done better if it'd had more sun. We planted in the buck pasture this year, which receives morning shade and afternoon sun. Unfortunately, all our rain meant more cloudy days than sunny. Still, I'm thankful for whatever we get.
Not all the ears were as large and filled out as the above, but in general I was pleased. The very best will be saved for next year's seed. Second will be for cornmeal for us. The rest will go to the chickens.
After I finish harvesting the cowpeas, I'll open the gate and let the bucks browse the remains. I've already seeded the bare spots in the field with annual rye, wheat, and oats. The annual rye is growing beautifully, the wheat and oats have yet to sprout. Combined, these will make a winter pasture for our billy boys.
|Riley: "Pay attention to me."|
Field Corn Update: The Harvest © October 2013