Growing Organic Corn

George looking at our corn with with the Organic Valley agronomist Mark Kopecky.

George looking at our corn with with the Organic Valley agronomist Mark Kopecky.

As you know, this year we’ve planted 70 acres of organic corn in our fields. We’ve done this to avoid the corn crisis that we had last year. In case you’d like to put in a crop in your backyard, here’s our primer on growing organic corn

1. Field Prep. First we prepare the fields by going over them several times with a harrow (that’s basically a big rake) to make sure that the weeds are killed. Remember, we’re an organic farm, so we don’t use any pesticides or any sort of weed killer.

2. Planting. Believe it or not, the machine we use to plant the corn is called…a corn planter. It puts in in 4 seeds at at time 38″ inches apart. Yes, exactly.

3. Cultivating. When the plant is tall enough, we cultivate with a tool that works the ground in between the rows so it kills the grass there, but doesn’t touch the corn rows themselves. We do this as the field requires. This year we’ve done it twice already, and we’ll do it a couple of more times until the harvest.

4. Growing. We actually don’t have anything to do with this. Growth really depends on how much sun and rain God sends us. We’re not complaining, but the extra rain this year has made the grass grow more quickly, so we have to cultivate more.

As you look at our fields, you’ll notice that the corn on the hills are doing much better than the corn in the lower spots. There is some standing water in these lower areas that just about drowned the plants there. course, some years we do not have enough rain, so we irrigate using the water from a river that runs through our property.

5. Harvesting. When the corn is matured and dry enough, it’s time to harvest. We use a combine which cuts the corn, shucks it, takes the kernels off, and tosses the rest back onto the field to enrich the soil.

And that’s it! The corn is then ready to mill – or make into cornbread.

Photo Credit for corn picture on slider: hoyasmeg via Compfight cc