June 23, 2013

Field Corn: Better Late Than Never

I'm not so sure the old saying, "better late than never", always applies much to planting, but that's what I'm telling myself nevertheless. Why are we late? For one thing, we've had a lot of rain and mud so far this planting season: 6.65" in April, 6.75" in May, and over 9 inches so far this month. Between that and Dan's work schedule, I was beginning to wonder whether or not we'd be able to plant field corn at all. But it's finally planted and should have enough time before first frost to make us a crop.

Our quarter acre buck pasture turned corn field for the summer.

It wasn't just a matter of plowing and planting. This field was targeted for this year's remineralization program. I had the soil tested earlier and based on the test results we tilled in dolomitic limestone, soft rock phosphate, sul-po-mag, borax, mangenese sulfate, copper sulfate, zinc sulfate, cobalt sulfate, and feather meal, as per the recommendations of that test (Albrecht method).

When the corn is about 6 inches tall, I'm going to plant Ozark Razorback cowpeas with it. I alternated the corn rows first two feet, then four feet. The cowpeas will go between the 2 foot rows, where it can grow up the corn. The 4 foot rows will be for walking and picking, and mowing down the weeds.

We planted Truckers Favorite field corn, which needs 95 to 105 days to reach maturity. That puts it at the end of September, and with our first frost due mid to late October, we should get a harvest.

I like Truckers Favorite because it grows well here, is easy to shell, and makes very tasty cornbread. More importantly, the kernels are small enough to feed to the chickens without cracking, which would be more work! The Ozark Razorbacks are also small, tasty for us, manageable by the chickens, and enjoyed with the pods by the goats.

It's a relief to get this done. According to another old saying, our corn may not be kneehigh by the 4th of July, but at least it's planted.


Tami said...

I think everybody is a bit late this year, Leigh. I planted beans, peppers and winter squash just a week or so ago.

Now lets keep our fingers crossed for a long Fall.

daisy g said...

Can't wait to see your corn growing!

Leigh said...

Tami, Dan says its true in a lot of places. He travels through the corn belt regularly and says they are all late on planting, except the Amish farms!

Daisy, me too. :)

Mama Pea said...

I finally managed to get our corn planted just before the rains came bringing more cold weather. Sigh. Will it even sprout? I still have hopes for it because the beans planted at the same time have finally shown their tender little sprouted selves.

Yep, loooong fall is what we all need this year!

Quinn said...

I've had the same situation with days and days of rain, all season. One result: every morning that it isn't raining, I get myself right outside and get something in the ground, even if it's only a few beans or a couple of squash plants. Good luck with your new field - sounds like a perfect plan!

Woolly Bits said...

I am living on the other side of the pond, but it's the same for us here! not only due to the weather, but also because of all the renovating work. if it's not raining we're outside working, but with only two hands there's only so much anyone can do:) why don't they invent little planting or sowing robots?:) I could use one....

Hannah said...

DH was asking what it would take to grow our own poultry food. Where I live the soil and night temps make June 15 about the soonest to grow corn. Some grains might do well earlier, but I don't know how to harvest and process them. I use tunnels to dry the soil out for planting tomatoes and squash early, and keep them warm, but that isn't practical for a whole field. Our present poultry food is corn and soy free, so has a lot of peas and some other grains, peas can grow in cool soil so might be a good bet but I've never been able to grow many because of the deer, unless it is in a fenced bed. I admire you for your persistence and being able to manage a farm. I hope the weather will help out and you will get a good crop.

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, the weather sure makes it a challenge. I know you have trouble with those warm weather loving crops, so I hope you do well with corn!

Quinn, I like that, plant if not raining. I'm guessing a lot of us have taken to mud gardening, LOL

Bettina, it is so true that there is only so much two people can do. We lament that a lot, and would love some of your gardening robots!

Hannah, your comment brings up an important point, that of region limitations. Grains are tough to grow. We've found corn the easiest, but would love to grow others as well. We've tried wheat, which is easy to grow, but not easy to process.

I have to add that we don't have everything figured out yet! We do have persistence, but often I have to chalk the results up to another learning experience.

Frank and Fern said...

There are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. I agree, better late than never. I hope your corn does well.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I got my field corn planted early and some of it is shoulder high now but had I waited, it would have been planting in the mud which is not good. I just hope that the wind doesn't knock it down now as the ground is still pretty damp. There should be time before frost for it to finish.

Unknown said...

I hope it goes well for you. Seems your weather has been very uncooperative. We harvested corn last weekend:)

Laura said...

I had frost up to June 21st... I had to replace a tomato that bit the big one, and lost 6 pepper plants. I may have to replant my basil, as well. I haven't planted my beans yet, and the sugar peas are about 1" high... But, the greens are up and growing, and I'm hoping to plant more.

This year is the poster child for "Global Weirding" I think!

Leigh said...

Fern, that is so true. It all seems to boil down to choices and priorities, doesn't it.

I am happy to report that the corn has just sprouted! (Very exciting)

Sunnybrook, I think most of us learn pretty quickly to do things when there's a chance to do them! Good for you for getting yours in.

Michele, thanks! I admit I'm flabbergasted that you harvested corn last week! But, that's what makes the internet so interesting, we can learn what folks from all over can do.

Laura, "global weirding," LOL. We humans tend to think that whatever we experience in our own lifetime is "normal," but I don't think weather and climate patterns have been or ever will be stable.

NOAA has an interesting chart, it can be obtained by state, here. It gives probabilities for first and last frost for any county in the US. Seems the dates we usually think of are the dates when the probability is at 50%. Their chart also gives 90% and 10% probability dates.

Frenchie said...

I've been saying the same thing! We expanded our garden this year, 10 4 x 16 beds and 1 2 x 36 bed for raspberries. My husband had a knee replacement so it was up to my son to help after school. Everything was finally planted 2 weeks ago. Now we have to contend with a terrible heat wave. I've lost about 1/3 of my dry beans. It's supposed to cool down tomorrow.