(Posted Fri. May 25th, 2012)
May 25: The National Corn Growers Association continues the second 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 checks in with Sam Hancock, an eighth-generation farmer in Fulton, Ky., who was featured in the first season of the series. While he was optimistic during the first interview of the season due to favorable weather conditions in April that allowed for early planting, a hot, dry May could damage his corn crop if his area does not see rain in the next week.
“We are in unusually bad shape for this time of year,” Hancock explained. “May is usually our wettest month, but I think that we have only had two-tenths of an inch of rain so far. The corn is looking really rough, and our seed rep said that we only have about a week left to get rain on it until there will be damage done that cannot be repaired by later rains. There isn’t much of a chance of that happening in the forecast, but we are really hoping.”
Noting that Fulton would normally get at least six to seven inches of rain in May, Hancock went into greater detail about how a lack of moisture can damage corn soon after emergence.
“A lot of people may not realize it, but the length and girth of an ear of corn are determined at this early stage,” Hancock explained. “If the plant is under stress, it doesn’t know to produce a larger ear. Moreover, I have heard from many people that corn only needs two inches of water to reach maturity, and the rest is just used to keep itself cool. But here this year, it is 95 to 100 degrees with about 15 mile -per-hour winds. Our corn needs much more moisture than it is getting to do that effectively. Now, the leaves are rolling up in the heat of the day, and the damage continually becomes more apparent.”
To listen to the full interview, 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.