Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Farm, farm animals, food, food safety, genetic modification, GMO, Music | Tags: Agriculture education, children, family, farm, Food, food safety, history, parody
Do you want the real story, or will you believe the “shocking” news of some entertainer? I’ve seen it so many times, a TV celebrity makes a statement or brings on a guest who makes a statement, that is totally at odds with the truth, and people actually believe it. When they make those comments about what we do here on the farm it can really hurt. I’m proud to tell you that a broad array of farm folks are stepping up to tell the real story. Among my favorites are the ladies at “Finding our Common Ground.” These young mothers are telling about what happens on the farm in a way that other young professional women can believe. One that came across my facebook feed today is about GMO’s. (http://findourcommonground.com/food-facts/corporate-farms/)
I’ve also watched the Peterson Brother do their thing in song parody that both entertains and informs. These young men and their sister are entertaining and informative. Check out one of their videos at
Today a really good video came to my computer from Midwest Dairy producers that is one of the best I have ever seen.
These are only a few of the many good efforts being made by agriculture today. The truth is that we few are a misunderstood group. What we do is shrouded in mystery because what we do is often hard, dirty work. Work that is rewarding in ways that many city jobs are not, but often so hard that many of our ancestors left the farm for the easier life in cities.Not only hard, but today very costly. It is harder and harder to get into farming without lots of money. For most of my life I struggled to make a living and feed my family on a farmers income. Because I was able to work with my dad I was able to keep going and now, 40 years later, can feel good about the life I live and the income I make. Today land and machinery prices are even higher and I wonder how the next generation will be able to farm.
My life is not “shocking,” but it is complex. We do things on the farm today in new ways because we have a heavier burden on our shoulders. When I started farming the average farmer fed 26 people, today he feeds 155. 98% of the farms are still family owned and account for 85% of the food you eat. In the last 100 years the average farm size has gone from 140 acres to about 500. Of interest is that there are now more farms today that there were 10 years ago, not hobby farms, but farms that are actually viable, $500,000 per farm gross profit farms.
So the next time someone tries to tell you how things really are on the farm, check out their bonafides. Do they really know what goes on on the farm, or are they telling you “shocking” story to get you to buy their book. You all are invited to check out the many farm stories that are now on the internet, and I know any one of us would love to hear from you. We’ll tell you what really happens down on the farm.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Biofuels, ethanol, Farm, farm animals, Farm Bureau, food, food safety, genetic modification, Minnesota, Politicians, Politics, travel | Tags: Agriculture education, biofuels, ethanol, farm, Farm Bureau, farm bureau members, Food, food safety, government, Minnesota, minnesota farm bureau federation, politics, travel
Filed under: Ag education, Animal care, Corn, Farm, farm animals, food, food safety, genetic modification, GMO, organic, science, weather | Tags: Agriculture education, consumer fears, Corn, emotional subject, farm, farmers and ranchers, Food, food safety, hormone estrogen, nature, organic producer, safety, science, weather
Everyone wants to believe that their opinion is right. Sometimes we don’t know why, but we are right. Sometimes we jump on an emotional bandwagon and never look back pledging everything we have to the emotional belief.
My kids say that I seem to be able to talk on any subject as if I’m always right. They in their span have also developed the ability to speak as if their opinion is the right one, I got it from my ancestors and so did they. I have yet to see any of us argue a point on emotion only. We are all prone to reading and study. We know our subject, and some of us know a lot of different subjects.
Our food can be a very emotional subject. For some the thought that there could be hormones, antibiotics, pesticides or GMO’s in their food is an emotional no. Since I work in the food industry I see things a bit differently. I see the efforts of farmers and ranchers, haulers, processors and groceries to put the best product out for the consumer to eat. We are all in this together.
Once in a while I will see a grocery put up a sign that I know is indefensible in trying to calm consumer fears that they cannot defend. Sometimes labels are to promote a food as a premium product. Here are a few.
This label is completely indefensible. Without hormones, there is no life. When placed on beef this should be worded “Grown with no added hormones.” Folks get concerned about the possibility of the hormone estrogen in their beef, but never check to see the level of hormones. Your lettuce has many times the level of estrogen in it than beef raise with hormone implants.
I’ve seen this label placed on many different products. Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. The true organic producer has to go through a three year certification process. They are subject to random check and a grueling documentation process. Make one mistake and you are out for three years. There is no one that can prove without a doubt that organic is better for you. This is an emotional label. If you want to pay more for organic, great. My organic farmer friends need the money since they spend many extra hours and lots more money to produce organic foods. It is best to buy certified organic in your store, or even better, only buy from a certified organic producer. Any other produce is suspect. There are times that the organic label has been put on foods that are not organic to satisfy demand.
Produce that is grown without the use of pesticides may or may not be better for you. Many fruits and veggies can be grown without pesticides naturally. They are usually thick skinned or naturally pest resistant. Those plants that are grown with the use of pesticides are checked by inspectors to be sure they do not contain more than the allowed limit of pesticides. It is in the best interest of the grower to produce your fruits and veggies without pesticides and they use them only when needed. The extra cost cuts into their already slim profit margin.
No livestock producer wants to see their animals sick. Just as you protect your children they also seek to protect their animals. If an animal needs a shot or a bit of cough medicine they get it. Many farmers try to produce antibiotic free meat since it brings a premium from the consumer. At times whole herds of animals can be removed from an antibiotic free process when a sickness breaks out. This is a financial loss to the producer, but they will do it to get the premium label that some demand.
All medication has a withdrawal period, a time that it cannot be used before slaughter. Farmers and processors are monitored to be sure that they follow withdrawal guidelines. If antibiotics show up in the meat, it cannot be eaten.
Grass fed, free range, cages (So many sub subjects here.)
University studies show that if there is a bias on grass fed beef, it is in favor of conventionally fed. The HDL/LDL levels in beef that are conventionally fed seems be better than grass fed. An animal raised conventionally also grows faster since it does not have to go so far in search of food.
Corn is a grass. Saying that because you feed corn to an animal you are doing something unnatural is bogus.
Living out doors is better. Living out doors exposes food animals to predators and disease as well as some really nasty weather. Being in and enclosed area also allows the farmer or rancher to watch for and treat disease or injury. Just as you would not like to live in a tent or cave, food animals prefer barns.
Injury as animals compete for food is one of the biggest problems faced in raising livestock. Independent studies have found that when pigs are allowed the choice of free range or stall housing they will choose stalls 90% of the time, they feel safer in the stall.
There are diseases and parasites that live in the soil that can infect animals raised outside.
This label is the most troubling for me. There are so many genetic modifications that have been made to our food plants and animals and some people try to lump them all into the same basket. Just because a food product has been modified to grow faster, use less water, use less fertilizer or resist pests does not mean it is dangerous. One of the staunchest critics of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), environmentalist Mark Lynas, recently said he had been mistaken and that the threat of GMOs had been exaggerated by him and others for years. Every piece of evidence I have seen that says GMO’s are bad for you has had hundreds of pieces of evidence brought forth to show how wrong they were.
I know that many feel in their gut that I am wrong, but when the science is so overwhelming, I know I’m right.
Filed under: Ag education, Corn, Farm, fertilizer, food, genetic modification, GMO, Minnesota, nitrogen, science, Soybeans, weather | Tags: Agriculture education, Corn, farm, Minnesota, nitrogen fertilizers, science, Soybeans, weather, Weed control
As much as some would like to stuff it back in, the GMO genie is out of the bottle. The use of genetic modifications in sciences of all kinds will continue to come. Medical breakthroughs will help us to lengthen life. Our food plants will grow faster, use less fertilizer and water. Our food will grow faster on less feed. Our companion animals will live longer and be more helpful. All because of genetic modifications that are either now being developed or will be in the future.
My specific focus, on the crops raised here in Southwestern Minnesota, will also see some changes. Here are some I’ll especially be looking forward to;
- Drought tolerance and efficient water usage will increase.
- Use of fertilizers will decrease as plants become more efficient.
- Plants will be breed to take their nitrogen from the air eliminating the need for nitrogen fertilizers that are currently produced by the oil industry.
- More plants will be developed for specific industries with corn varieties specific for feed stocks in industry and livestock feed, and changes in the oil and meal content of soybeans.
- Disease tolerant varieties of crops will be developed quicker as new crop diseases and insect pests develop or move to new areas.
- More crops will be developed that contain needed vitamins and minerals so that those in countries facing vitamin and mineral deficiencies will live a healthier life.
These are just a few of the discoveries we have to look forward to. The future advantages of genetic modification far outweigh the potential problems. It is going to be an exciting future.
Filed under: Farm, genetic modification, GMO, science | Tags: Agriculture education, farm, GMO, GMO's, science
You can most likely guess from the previous posts that I am in favor of what has been happening with GMO products. Part of it is because I understand the science of GMO’s. I have training in Agricultural sciences and have kept up with what universities and private companies are doing. I have not been “shocked” by some fake science finding that has no basis in truth.
A case in point. One of the GMO items that some people are upset about is the addition of the Bt gene to crops so that crops can produce their own insecticide. Here’s what the University of Wisconsin has to say about Bt.
- What is Bt?
- Bt is the common abbreviation for a naturally occurring bacteria Bacillus thuringienus that is found in the soil. A unique feature of this bacterium is its production of crystal like proteins that selectively kill specific groups of insects. These crystal proteins are insect stomach poisons that must be eaten to kill the insect. Bt insecticides have been used for over 60 years and are considered safe to non-target organisms. However, because it is a natural product it is unstable and short-lived.
- How is Bt corn created?
- Plant geneticists create Bt corn by inserting selected exotic DNA(in this case Bt DNA) into the corn plants DNA. DNA is the genetic material that controls the expression of a plants or animalss traits. The Bt gene, modified for improved expression in corn, produce the crystal proteins which are toxic to some caterpillars, such as the European corn borer. Promoters determine where the toxin will be expressed in the plant. Varieties that express the toxin in silks, kernels and pith tend to offer longer season protection than varieties that express only in the pollen and green tissue of the plant.
- How safe is Bt and Bt corn?
- The EPA considered 20 years of human and animal safety data before registering Bt corn. Bt proteins are not toxic to people, domestic animals, fish, or wildlife; and they have no impacts on the environment. Bt crystal proteins are highly selective in killing larvae of moths. Bt corn, however, does not affect beneficial insects including honey bees, lady beetles, green lacewing larvae, spiders, pirate bugs or parasitic wasps.
So there you have it, that is the science of Bt genetics. An organic insecticide is produced in the plant. This product had over 20 years of trials before it was placed into plants and has been used for over 10 yeas since then. I’d consider that to be sufficient testing.
Yes, insects will develop a resistance to it, that is natural. These will not be super bugs, just survivors. There will be other methods available to help contain those surviving insects.
Then you have genetic modifications that encourage better root growth or put more beans in a pod, are they to be classed with all other modifications when they do not add exotic DNA?
So many people are afraid that we are going to unleash Frankensteins Monster on an unsuspecting public, but this is not likely to happen. This is not a horror movie, this is life folks. Our scientific community is trying to produce more food to feed the children of the future, let them alone to do their job. Please don’t stop them from creating beneficial changes in our plants and animals because of some fear monger’s nightmare. The era of genetic modification is upon us and the potential benefits are exciting.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, genetic modification, GMO, science, Soybeans | Tags: Agriculture education, Bt, Corn, farm, glyphosate, GMO, GMO's, Monsanto, Roundup, roundup herbicide, roundup ready soybeans, science, Soybeans
OK, so here’s my opinion about GMO’s. but first ….
To help you understand where my opinions come from, you need to know a bit about me. I’m 59 and have never wanted to do anything other than farming. Yes, I do have a few non farm hobbies, but farming is my main business. My dad is 83 and refuses to slow down, he is active off farm in the ethanol industry. I have a degree from the University of Minnesota in Animal Science, but took as many crop science classes as I could. At one time I sold seed for two different companies, one no longer exists, and the other is still going, independently from any other company. I’m an avid reader, but have become bored with most of the farm press because they are telling me nothing new. I read Time Magazine and National Geographic cover to cover, every issue. I get most of my network news from the radio, preferring a local ABC affiliate. I watch science shows on PBS whenever I can. I have been active in the Republican party but have not been happy with their slant for over 20 years now. I am currently active in the Evangelical Lutheran Church and The Farm Bureau.
Dad and I farm about 750 acres in Southwestern Minnesota. At one time we got half of our income from hogs, but now are only crop farmers. According to University data we should be farming 2000 acres to earn a decent living, but are happy with what we have. In our area we are small farmers. My mother has never worked off of the farm, and my wife is recently retired after teaching kindergarten.
When the first GMO’s came to the farm we called them Roundup Ready Soybeans. They were soybean plants that has been breed to withstand being sprayed with Roundup herbicide, otherwise known a glyphosate. Roundup was a Monsanto product unlike any previously seen weed killer. We had been using it spot spraying weeds in soybeans for many years. Soybeans had a tolerance to a low dose of Roundup already, but adding the Roundup Ready gene allowed us to spray the whole field and kill off only the weeds. Some broadleaf weeds needed more Roundup than others, but grasses were dead, fast.
I was a bit slow to jump on the Roundup Ready bandwagon. Yes, Roundup killed weeds better than anything else available at the time, but the yield was not there in the first years. Later as Roundup Ready Soybeans got better and Roundup Ready corn was introduced it was easier to move to an all glyphosate program.
From the very beginning, Monsanto told us not to use only Roundup. They had also seen the weeds that were harder to kill with Roundup. Monsanto added different types of additives to make glyphosate work better, but they kept warning us that if farmers used only glyphosate we would be seeing weeds that would adjust and would no longer be killed by glyphosate.
Now Monsanto has discovered that if you move the glyphosate tolerance gene to a different place on the DNA of a soybean plant it will give you more yield. Adding more bushels to the acre makes Roundup Ready 2 Yield Soybeans more attractive.
The addition of glyphosate tolerance to corn was a major change in the corn plant. Corn, maize, is a grass, and glyphosate is deadly to all grasses. Now farmers had to add another herbicide to their mix to get rid of corn that showed up in other crops in the following years.
One of the most important changes to the corn plant and several other crops was when they learned how to get the plants to make their own insecticide. Now we have Bt corn. Bt is the common abbreviation for a naturally occurring bacteria Bacillus thuringienus that is found in the soil. A unique feature of this bacterium is its production of crystal like proteins that selectively kill specific groups of insects. These crystal proteins are insect stomach poisons that must be eaten to kill the insect. Bt insecticides have been used for over 60 years and are considered safe to non-target organisms. However, because it is a natural product it is unstable and short-lived. Problems have been occurring in some areas where Bt corn has been overused. Some insects have become immune to Bt. The solution turns out to be an easy one, plant a different crop.
There are other advantages to planting some types of GM crops for the farmer, but all of them must be used in moderation. Nature will always figure out a way around any defense that is developed. Many farm folks have learned that a too much of a good thing is good initially, but bad in the long run. It is all part of the cycle of nature. If there are a lot of one thing, something else will figure out a way to use it. No modification of plant or animal is without risk.
OK, I expect to do one more in this series unless I get a lot of questions that take me off on a new track.
Filed under: Ag education, Corn, dogs, Farm, genetic modification, GMO, history, Soybeans | Tags: Agriculture education, Corn, dogs, farm, Food, GMO, gmo debate, GMO's, history, mule, plants and animals, Soybeans, triticale
The GMO debate is on because of the prop 37 vote in California. Everyone seems to assume that genetic modification is new, or bigger than ever before, but it’s not. Here are some groundbreaking modifications in plants and animals that happened before we were able to move genes around in a cell.
Changing for humanity
Somewhere between 5000 and 10,000 years ago, mankind started changing plants and animals around him. You see, mankind was a thinking animal such as had never before walked the earth. Men and women started noticing that certain kinds of plants were better than others for food. They started protecting the ones that they found easiest to harvest, or producing more food. As time went on the protected plants changed. More and more they started showing the characteristics that people wanted. The grain heads became bigger, the fruit became tastier. Changes were coming because the need to protect themselves from those who ate them were no longer needed. Man became the protector, the spreader of the “best” seeds, fruits and tubers. Those plants that man wanted spread to new areas and became dependent on mankind.
One of the most changed of these plants was maize, corn here in the Americas. Corn had made dramatic changes before Europeans found this continent. The placement of the grain head had moved to the center of the plant and become larger. Seeds also changed size and shape. But the changes were not over. When Europeans started to pick larger ears in a more organized fashion the yield per plant increased. Then people found that if they cross-breed certain types of plants, you could get even more grain from each plant. Corn was easy to cross-breed. The male and female parts of the flower were separated from each other and by plucking off the male part you could force a cross between types. Inbreed lines were developed and the hybrid seed business was born. Maize became a tame plant that could no longer survive in the wild.
Other plants have also changed with human help. The modern banana does not exist in the wild. Wheat, barley, rye, peas, beans of all types changed to suit human needs. Most grapes and apples, if grown from seed will not look anything like the parent. If humans eat it, humanity has or will change it to suit our needs.
Animals also changed to suit our needs. The village dog of Africa is perhaps the most true to type of all dogs, yet even it is like nothing in the wild. Yes, you can cross come types of dogs with wolves, yet they are genetically different.
Consider the Terrier. Chosen as a rat killer to protect a farmers grain, it is small, energetic and savage. It’s large neck muscles are designed to shake a rat to death. It is the best for its job.
The many types of shepherds are also chosen for their jobs. They are gentile with sheep and cattle, yet know when to put a bit of snap in their jaws to get a stupid lamb to move. Shepherds are considered to be the most intelligent of dogs, and why not, they work daily with mankind and must be able to understand commands given by had gesture, word or whistle.
Greyhounds, wolfhounds, dachshunds, bull dogs, poodles, every type of dog you can think of was chosen for a specific job, the hunt, or protection, yet they all came from the same ancestor. The dog is molded to the needs of man, and because of that, they are everywhere.
Many seem to think that crossing species is a new thing. They have forgotten the mule and the hinny. Mules are the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. The hinny is the offspring a male horse and a female donkey. Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. A donkey has 62 chromosomes, whereas a horse has 64. Hinnies and mules, being hybrids of those two species, have 63 chromosomes and are sterile. The uneven number of chromosomes results in an incomplete reproductive system. This is a cross that goes back thousands of years.
Another newer species cross is triticale. Triticale (× Triticosecale), (/trɪtɪˈkeɪliː/) is a hybrid of wheat (Triticum) and rye (Secale) first bred in laboratories during the late 19th century. The grain was originally bred in Scotland and Sweden. Commercially available triticale is almost always a second generation hybrid, i.e., a cross between two kinds of primary (first cross) triticales. As a rule, triticale combines the high yield potential and good grain quality of wheat with the disease and environmental tolerance (including soil conditions) of rye. Only recently has it been developed into a commercially viable crop. Depending on the cultivar, triticale can more or less resemble either of its parents. It is grown mostly for forage or fodder, although some triticale-based foods can be purchased at health food stores or are to be found in some breakfast cereals. When crossing wheat and rye, wheat is used as the female parent and rye as the male parent (pollen donor). The resulting hybrid is sterile, and must be treated with colchicine to induce polyploidyand thus the ability to reproduce itself.
These are not the only species combinations that mankind has helped produce long before modern GM methods were available.
Modern genetic modification started with tobacco. Tobacco seems to have been a gateway crop that modern GM testing began with in 1982. In 1994, a herbicide-resistant tobacco was approved that was developed in France. Herbicide-resistance was developed in soybeans the next year. Since then many companies and universities have used GM methods to try to change many of the plants and animals important to people.
With the advent of GM soybeans mankind started eating modern genetically modified plants. Those who balk at eating GM plant material have unknowingly been eating them for over 15 years now. There has never been a scientifically proven human health problem that can be traced back to GM products. In fact, if you look, you will see that all of the health problems that are blamed on GM food products had their advent before GM foods were introduced.
GM products are nothing new. Humans have been changing plants and animals around them for thousands of years. The modern methods of genetic modification have accelerated the process, but not produced the most dramatic changes seen in the history of our companion plants and animals. Humans will continue to shape the plants and animals that travel through history with them. Our modifications have assured that more and more people are fed on our little planet, and that is good, because every year there are more and more of us.
p.s. Some parts of this blog post were lifted verbatim from Wikipedia.
Filed under: Ag education, Corn, Farm, genetic modification, GMO, organic, science, Soybeans, weather | Tags: Agriculture education, Corn, drought, farm, GMO, GMO's, organic, organic farming, science, Soybeans, weather
As expected my earlier post on GMO’s drew some comments from long time readers. These comments have me off on a totally different path than I had first expected in my second post.
So here it is, let’s talk labeling, that after all is the real reason that California’s prop 37 is being promoted.
When farm folks produce certified organic labelled produce they are held to a much stricter set of regulations than non-organic producers. It means that a farmer has limited his use of certain practices to produce an organic product, and has the documentation to prove it. The consumer is assuming that the farm products they are buying that are labeled organic are different from non-organic produce and are willing to pay more for it. Modern science has not proven that there is a physical difference in the same products raised differently. There is an emotional difference however, and if it makes a difference to you in how your food is produced, great, go for it. I am fully in support of my organic farming friends getting paid more to produce food for you. Just remember, they do a lot more work to produce organic foods and deserve to be paid for that extra work.
I do not however find the same need for labeling of GM products. Why is that?
First off, there are so many different kinds of GMO’s that it is hard to be sure you are using a genetically modified product. Crops have been modified to resist insects, to metabolize certain chemicals or to produce different types of growth. The is no one way to prove that what you have is genetically modified. Some modifications are indeed introductions of genes from other organisms, but others are merely a rearrangement or enhancement of genes that are already there. Do you paint all genetic changes with the same brush?
Many find genetic modification offensive because they see it as being forced upon them by Big Agriculture, mainly Monsanto. Yes, Monsanto did produce the first commercially used farm products, but they are not the only company that makes use of genetic modification.
As far as I know every seed corn and seed soybean company in the U.S. is using GM methods to produce seed for tomorrows needs. University experimentation in production for tomorrows needs are also gong on. The reason they are using GM methods is because they can produce new seed varieties so much faster than by older methods. This has allowed them to fine tune their search for products that are economically viable. The corn and soybean varieties we used on our farm were able to survive this years drought, perhaps the worst drought in my life, and still produce close to a normal crop, that is a direct product of GM methods.
Are we gong to label all GM products as being the same? Do we place the enhancement of seed production or a better root system in the same category as chemical matabolization? I find a great difference in these genetic manifestations. We need each plant to produce more, and thus a bean that has more seeds in a pod is wanted. A plant with a better root system will still produce a crop in drought conditions. These are needed changes in plant growth. Do we label them bad because of how they were developed?
To label a product as genetically modified and have some assume it is bad is just not sound science. I say no to labeling.
So here is part 2, expect more soon.
Filed under: Ag education, Farm, genetic modification, GMO | Tags: Agriculture education, farm, food safety, Genetically Modified, GMO, GMO's
There seems to be a bit of talk going around now about Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMO’s, lately. The coming vote on California Proposition 37 has something to do with it I’m sure. The Pop. 37 vote has gotten TV personalities talking about GMO’s also, but usually they are talking about the “shocking” pseudoscience of those “chicken little” fear mongers in our midst who will do anything to get noticed.
Those who have been on my Facebook feed have seen the recent shares I have made from farm related organizations as they highlight what the scientific mainstream has to say about GMO’s. Basically, the agricultural community is for the use of GM plants. Now some would say that is because Monsanto is tainting the waters to promote its products, but agriculture is not controlled by Monsanto, or DuPont, or BSAF, or any other multinational company. The farming community is made up of mostly family farms, 97% of the products produced on the farm are from family groups, not some multi national company, and we are all a bit independent minded enough not to believe what the first snake oil salesman tries to sell us.
I’ve been asked to give my personal opinion by a reader, as you can guess from the words above, I am in favor of the use of GMO’s. I find no smoking gun, or franken-foods to cause me concern. I have not always been on the GMO bandwagon, but my earlier concerns were over the cost to the consumer and the value of GM products. As time has gone on, these products have proven themselves to me and to the agricultural world at large. There is value in producing GM products, they are safe to use, and the world will need them if we are to continue to feed our worlds growing population.
So, this is #1 in a series. Stay tuned for my experience and a brief history of GMO’s.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, genetic modification, GMO, harvest, Minnesota, rain, weather, Wildlife | Tags: Corn, drought, farm, Genetically Modified, GMO, harvest, Minnesota, rain, weather, wildlife
I’ve been spending time out in the field checking on crop conditions. Despite the dry conditions in our area of Minnesota the crop looks really good. If we had not had the heavy rains this spring, and a few well timed rains this summer, I’m sure it would have looked a lot worse.
This is pretty typical of what I see. Every stalk has an ear on it, and they all seem to be well filled out. Some are even starting to tip down, which means that they are nearing maturity. The stalks are mostly green top to bottom, but areas that had more stress are showing some dead leaves on the bottom.
If you peal the husks back you see that the ears are well filled out and most kernels are dented. Some are filled to the tip while others are missing some kernels at the end. This is potential that could have been corn.
Sometimes you will find an ear that insects, raccoons, mice or deer have damaged the ears. This photo is mouse damage. These instances are rare, but there. In a good year this would not be a problem. It seems that in a dry year you have more of these problems.
Raccoons and deer can destroy large areas of corn if they are thick enough. Mice and insects usually settle for a few kernels on the end of the ear, their damage is hidden, but substantial.
Even the moisture stressed plants in sandy areas will try to produce corn, and some will succeed. We do not have many areas like this, but most field have them. The amount of grain loss will depend on how large the area is.
So how big will our crop be? I really could not tell you. I do know that with out modern crop technology we would be looking at a lot less yield. The ability to get by on little water that is part of the newer genetically modified crops is really making a difference between having a crop and not having one. We’ll see what is out there when the combines roll.
I can tell you that we will have one of the earlier harvest in our history. Maturity has been hastened by all of the heat we have had this growing season.