The old saying is corn should be knee-high by the Fourth of July, and the way we’re headed this year, such a modest height will be a blessing.

Last year, and some of the previous years, farmers have been able to combine earlier planting dates with better quality seed to achieve “waist-high” corn by the fourth. There’s a few fields here and there where it might happen this year, but not many.

On Friday, June 24, I drove from my home in Wooster, Ohio, to Marion. The crop progress I saw was varied — everything from corn a foot and a half tall, to corn that had just emerged. Beans were in similar shape, although certainly not as tall.

Corn color also varied. Several fields were a deep, favorable green, while others were partly to very yellow from too much moisture and not enough nutrients.

A positive note

I didn’t see one field of wheat along the way that had been blown over or severely damaged by hail — although that’s not to say there weren’t any. Much of the wheat looked good and is rapidly turning gold, especially in the counties further south.

On Sunday, June 26, I traveled from Wooster, to Erie and Ottawa counties to fish for walleye on Lake Erie. The fishing was lousy, but I got to see thousands of acres of corn and wheat along the way.

It was mostly a repeat of what I saw on Friday. One field would be doing well while the next one was struggling, or one part of the field would be tall and green, while other parts were still short and yellow.

The differences sort of gave the fields a wave effect, going from one condition to another, and then another.

Better than expected?

I still believe the crops will recover and yield better than a lot of people think. But I’m thinking many yield goals will still fall short, no matter what happens now.

On the one hand, we’ve been fortunate to have the rains through June to prevent the soil from baking and drying up, as some feared would happen. But, depending on where you live, it’s still raining too much.

I suppose June and July will be the big factors now, and maybe as some of the corn and beans become better established, they’ll do better at handling whatever the next two months throw our way.

The basic standard

Although it’s been a rough year so far, I think there’s good reason to just be satisfied with the standard many of our fathers and grandfathers used.

If you’ve got knee-high corn, or better, than you’re probably doing as good as you can hope, and the rest will just have to take care of itself.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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