If you drive across any Midwestern state right now, you’ll see machine shed doors opened up, planters stirring up dust in the fields and jumbo-sized coffee mugs in the farmers’ hands.  It’s planting time.  What a privilege it is to be able to provide food for the world.

What is corn used for?

corn use poster 1corn use poster 2

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The following diagrams are from the National Corn Growers Association 2016 publication, “World of Corn.”

components of corn

To see how corn is planted today, it’s hard to even imagine that it was once planted one row at a time or with a horse.  The screens you see in the cab below serve as a control center.  We can monitor just about everything happening with the planter – what the seed singulation is, the seed spacing, how much down pressure is being applied to each row, how much seed is left in each row, etc.  Auto-steer technology is driving the tractor which allows the operator to pay closer attention to all the details taking place behind them.  Automatic row shut-offs will shut the planter off once it has crossed over an already-planted area, saving on seed and improving yield in those areas.

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This picture is showing the seed trench where the corn kernel is dropped at about 2.25 inches deep.  IMG_2249

After the seed is dropped in the trench, these closing wheels will seal up the trench and the drag chains help to cover and level the trench.

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Good seed spacing is important, but even more so is proper seed depth.  It is critical to get every plant emerging at the same time so that they grow and develop consistently.  If a plant emerges later than its neighboring plants, it could become a runt (more like a weed) and will not be able to compete with its larger, neighboring plants which will rob it of essential nutrients and sunlight.

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It’s pretty difficult to get through the day without the use of products made possible by corn.  Whether it’s the food you eat, the soap you shower with, the fuel you put in your vehicle or the carpet you walk on, products made from corn are all around us.