If you’re from a rural area, you’ve probably heard the old saying, “Knee-high by the 4th of July.” Depending on your location, this may or may not apply to cornfields in your area this year. But as I sit at my desk, looking out my window at a cornfield with the 4th of July closing in on us, I see corn that is probably taller than I am, let alone knee high.
Because of today’s advancements in crop production, we’re able to plant much sooner than in years past. Weather permitting, we can plant in April (March if you’re in the Southern states) without fear of insects or disease killing the crop. This was the limiting factor not that long ago and the reason why corn couldn’t be planted until mid to late May, therefore producing corn that was knee-high by the 4th of July.
As we all prepare for the celebrations of the 4th we’re probably purchasing things like hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, beer and fireworks. Let’s take a moment to think about where all of these products come from. Let me briefly take you down memory lane . . .
When I was a young girl, my parents would let my brother and I skip school in early September to go the Farm Progress Show when it was in either Illinois or Indiana. We never went to the show when it was in Iowa because that was WAY too far away . . . who knew I’d live there someday!
The most memorable trip for me was when I was in about 4th or 5th grade and Bonnie Blair was at the show signing her autograph and handing out posters. She was the hometown hero of Champaign, IL (not far from where I grew up) and incredibly famous at that time since she’d recently brought home more gold merchandise from the Olympics. I was in complete awe of her . . . she and Reggie Miller were my biggest heroes at that time even though I had never stepped foot on an ice rink.
Along with my signed Bonnie Blair poster, I also came home from the show that year with a t-shirt that would survive many moves across the Midwest with me and that I still have in my dresser to this day. Although it’s not quite as bright white as it used to be, the message still resonates. At the top of the t-shirt it says, “Soybeans, they’re in almost everything.” And then it lists products on the front and back of the shirt that are made with soybeans. It even says at the bottom that it was printed with soy ink. As a young girl, this made such an impression on me . . . I had no idea that the crop my family grew made so many different products that people all over the world use. I was so proud to wear this shirt to school the next week and I wore it all the time . . . and didn’t have many friends but that’s neither here nor there . . .
The same is true for corn, wheat and other crops of course. Here are just a few interesting things that are made possible by corn:
- Fireworks! As you watch those beautiful displays of fireworks this weekend, be sure to thank a corn farmer!
- Makeup – Mary Kay is corn fed too!
- Spark plugs
- Paper products
- Gas and oil
So, even though you may not be connected to a farm or have an interest in farming, your lives and the products you use every single day are made possible by farmers. When crop yields suffer due to weather or disease and grain markets fluctuate accordingly, we are all affected.
This 4th of July, be safe, have fun and enjoy the products brought to you by cornfields everywhere.