Friday, January 3, 2014

Harvesting Corn

Our next-door neighbor, Bobby, planted his fields in non-GMO corn this past season and just recently harvested it. As I was out walking this morning I made my way over to his barn, where all was quiet. I took some photos of his equipment so that I could try to figure out how he harvested his crop. Thanks to some google searching, here's what I think happened.

Step 1: Grow the corn.
Our neighbor planted acres and acres of corn back in the late spring, once the soil temperature warmed up a bit. The proper time to plant, old people say, is when oak leaves are as big as squirrels' ears. I'm not sure if Bobby followed this advice or not, but his corn came up and it was beautiful.

Step 2: Hope for a long sun-filled days and well-timed steady rains.
Field corn is left to dry on the stalk until late in the fall/early winter.

Step 3: Harvest it.
Our neighbor harvested his corn with a combine which has row dividers that pick up the corn stalks as the machine moves through the field. The ears were broken off from the stalk and dragged into the combine. The stalks were then dropped back on the ground. Inside the combine a machine separated the husks, kernels, and cob. It then spit the cob and husks back onto the ground, storing the kernels.

Step 3: Leave the leftover material on the ground.
The stalks, husks and cobs protect the soil from erosion and return nutrients to the soil. And wildlife – raccoons, deer, geese, wild turkey – feast on the kernels that don't make it into the harvest.

Step 4: Load the grain truck.
The kernels are loaded into the grain truck and taken away to a grain elevator, mill, or distillery. Our neighbor told me that he is selling his corn to a distillery for use in making bourbon.

Step 5: Relax with a snifter of non-GMO-corn bourbon.
Begin planning for the next season. I know that corn is a heavy feeder and will deplete the soil if planted in the same place year after year. I suspect these fields will be planted in soy beans in the spring.

I'm not at all sure that I've got this harvesting process explained correctly. If anyone can enlighten me, I'd be grateful.


  1. i can't comment on the harvesting technique, but in your last step, you mention "relaxing with a snifter of non-GMO bourbon" which got me thinking...and down a rabbit-hole of sorts about bourbon. i'm surprised to find (and feel free to correct me if i'm wrong) that only Four Roses and Wild Turkey use non-GMO corn! thanks for getting me thinking...

  2. Very interesting. One more reason to drink those two brands.

    Thanks for the research. Hope you will come visit Farm Dover in 2014!