(Posted Fri. Jun 6th, 2014)
The National Corn Growers Association now offers its fourth season of Field Notes, a series that takes readers behind the farm gate to follow the year in the life of American farm families. While these growers come from diverse geographic areas and run unique operations, they share a common love for U.S. agriculture and the basic values that underpin life in farming communities.
Today, Field Notes caught up with Adam Bell, a Kentucky farmer who participates in NCGA’s New Leaders Program, which is co-sponsored by Pioneer. With the crop planted, he is still keeping a careful eye on his fields to ensure he acts quickly to prevent possible damage.
“We have finished fertilizing everything that needs to be fertilized and spraying everything that needs to be sprayed,” he explained. “Now, we are focusing on scouting the fields for any pests and weeds we might need to take care of before the corn gets too big. We have had a lot of water. Before too long, we will start tissue sampling to make sure we aren’t deficient in nitrogen because of that.”
Unlike many years, Bell actually is in need of weather conditions normally in over-abundance in his area during June.
“The crop is looking pretty good. We have had quite a bit of rain and just need to dry out a little bit,” he explained. “The last few weeks, we have been a little cloudy, but we are in pretty good shape. During a normal year, we just hope that it doesn’t get too warm and stay warm at night, which does happen often. This year, it would actually be great if it got a little warmer and stayed there without getting too hot.”
To listen to the full interview with Bell, click here.
Then, Field Notes spoke with Jennie Schmidt, a farmer in Maryland, about the conditions in her area.
“We just finished planting corn last Friday, but the crop is looking good. We have had good emergence so far,” Schmidt said. “Now, we are getting ready to apply some nitrogen to fertilize those plants.”
In addition to farming, Schmidt also has extensive academic training in dietetics and regularly speaks to groups from academics to politicians about GMO crops from her unique perspective. Recently, she had the opportunity to speak during a conference for Hawaiian dietitians. Through her time there, Schmidt came to better understand the important role that state plays in enabling crop production across the country.
“While we were in Hawaii, we had an opportunity to tour a Monsanto research farm,” she said. “They were mainly breeding conventional, but also some biotech. I was surprised to learn that they grow three or four corn crops per year there. It helps them move research and testing along and get the traits farmers need to them in a timely manner. I can’t imagine growing so many corn crops in a year! But, this ability allows the Hawaiian facilities, which many companies have, to play an important role.”
To listen to the full interview with Schmidt and learn about her conversations during the tour with culinary students, click here.
Stay tuned over the coming weeks as Field Notes follows the growers who have opened their farms, families and communities up this year and meet the true faces of modern American agriculture.