THE CORNFIELD THE DAY AFTER PLANTING
Notice the shallow furrows made by the furrow openers attached to the
W. T. AINSWORTH & SONS
MASON CITY, ILLINOIS
Written especially for the
CORN BELT FARMERS
Actively Engaged in Farming for Forty Years, and Still at It.
RALPH M. AINSWORTH
Secretary Illinois Corn Growers' and Stockmen's Convention.
Member Illinois Seed Corn Breeders' Association.
' ' Oh, the corn, the royal corn,
within whose golden heart there
is of health and strength for all
the nations. ' '
RALPH M. AINSWORTH
3 3 . 1
DURING the past ten years great progress has been
made in the cultivation and care of corn, both for
seed and market. During this time few books have
been written which have kept up with this progress. What
has been written has pertained largely to the attacks of
insect and fungous pests and to the selection and care of
corn for seed.
Very little that would be of practical benefit to the busy
farmer has been written on the culture of corn. We have
long felt the need of such a book and have at length been
induced by our friends to attempt the work ourselves. The
result is seen in the volume now placed before the public.
Our aim has been to make this book up-to-date in every
particular and to cover the entire practice of corn growing,
from the cutting of the stalks in the spring to the selection
and testing of the seed for next year's crop.
We have purposely started with the preparation of the
seed bed because we know that some readers will start this
book and will not finish it. If only a little is read, we are
especially anxious that the reader get that part pertaining
to the growing of the crop.
The writers are both actively engaged in farming seven
hundred acres of land, and W. T. Ainsworth has been growing
corn on his Cloverdale farm for over thirty-five years.
No apology is offered for the manner in which the subject
is treated. The public must be the sole judge as to whether
the book is deserving of commendation.
We do not claim originality for all of our methods since
many of our operations have been suggested by neighbors and
the reading of bulletins and farm papers.
Changing conditions, from year to year, demand new and
different methods of culture. The farmer, to keep abreast of
the times, must be ready to adopt new ideas. If any of us
should disregard the opinion of others and depend solely upon
his own judgment for ten years, he would find that he would
be left far behind in the march of competition.
We wish gratefully to acknowledge the sympathy,
encouragement and suggestions which we have received from
farmers in Illinois and in other states. To mention each one
would be out of the question, but our gratitude for their
kindness is none the less sincere.
Such rapid progress is being made in the methods of
growing farm crops that this book will undoubtedly be a back
number in less than five years. For this reason it is our
intention to rewrite it every two years. If the reader will
send a return stamped envelope we shall be glad to answer
any questions, in our power, in regard to conserving soil
fertility and the culture of corn.
"W. T. AND RALPH M. AINSWORTH.
SUNNY SIDE FARMSTEAD,
Mason City, Illinois.
PART I. CULTURE
Preparing the Seed Bed 12
PART II. BUILDING UP THE LAND
The Rotation of Farm Crops 57
Leguminous Crops 68
Stable and Barnyard Manures 83
Phosphorus and Limestone 90
PART III. THE SEED
Selecting the Best Ears for Seed 95
The "Ear to the Row" Breeding Plot 105
Drying and Storing Seed Corn 117
Preparing Seed Corn for Planting '. 122
Insect Enemies and Plant Diseases 129
Letters on Corn Culture from Practical Farmers 140
Farmers in the United States are beginning to appreciate
the fact that they are not raising as much per acre on their
ground as do European farmers. This subject is being
brought constantly to their attention by government bulletins,
the agricultural press, farmers' institutions, etc. The early
settlers on the soil found a virgin fertility which they did
not stop to think would some day be exhausted; and they
and their successors did little or nothing to compensate the
soil for what they took out. We have now come to the point
where the subject deserves our serious consideration. We
must not only recognize the fact, but must act. The difference
in productivity, however, is not due entirely to low soil
fertility, but may be influenced by culture and by the time,
method, and rate of seeding. Unquestionably each of these
factors influence the yield to a considerable extent.
When crop prices were low in the United States, the
excuse was often given that European farmers could farm
better because their farm produce commanded prices which
made intensive agriculture profitable with them but not with
us. This may have been true twenty years ago, but during
the last five years wheat, oats, and especially corn, have
brought good prices, in some cases higher than the prices
Present food prices for farm products are an incentive to
better farming; if they continue wonderful strides should be
8 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
made during the next ten years. We believe present
farm prices are here to stay, unless, perchance, they go
GOOD PRICES FOR FARM CROPS
The last census shows that the population of the' United
States increases over twenty per cent every decade. This
increase in population has been much greater than the in-
crease in the available supply of land. The demand for farm
crops has increased faster than the supply, with the result
that farm crops and farm lands continue to bring higher
prices. This is especially true of corn and corn land.
At least eighty per cent of the corn land in the corn belt
proper is now under cultivation. If, then, we are to grow
more corn in the future, it will be necessary to grow more
bushels to the acre. More bushels mean better farming, and
better farming requires not only more thorough and intelli-
gent culture but the building up of the land and more care-
ful selection of seed.
"While we are confronted by depleted soils and the stern
necessity of better farming, we are cheered by the fact that
the resulting higher prices are making better farming exceed-
ingly profitable. Twenty years ago the farmer was excusable
for following bonanza methods (we have excused ourselves)
with corn selling at fourteen cents per bushel.
From 1890 to 1895 it was necessary for the corn belt
farmers to economize in every possible way in order to meet
necessary expenses, to say nothing of buying manure spreaders
and turning under leguminous crops. Automobiles did not
exist, and if they had existed, the farmer could' not afford
to own one. During this period, careful farmers did well to
play even ; while with the majority farming was a losing
game. Crops were often sold at a price which brought the
farmer less than their value as a fertilizer.
Even as late as 1895 the corn belt farmer did not worry
much over the fact that he was depleting his soil. Since the
farmer had no surplus and no working capital his farming
equipment was inadequate. Corn was not considered as being
worth more than three cultivations. If he wanted more corn
he planted more acres. During this period of low prices the
farmer's outlook was not optimistic.
Let us take time to contrast this with the last five years
on the farm.
During the summer and fall of 1908, with corn at sixty
cents on the farm, prices of farm crops rose to a new high
level; and if our memory does not fail us, it has been worth
at least fifty cents per bushel (sometime during the year) for
the past five years. At the date of this writing, corn is bring-
ing sixty-five cents at the country elevators. With hogs and
cattle at eight cents per pound there is surely a margin of
profit large enough to give the thorough farmer a working
capital, and a working capital means better farming.
INVESTING THE FARMERS' SURPLUS
With corn land selling at $150 to $300 per acre, we believe
that an investment of this surplus in manure spreaders and
in the growing of leguminous crops to be returned to the
land will bring greater returns in dollars and cents than
the use of this money or credit for the purchase of more
acres. There are indications on every hand that farmers
as a class are beginning to appreciate this fact and to realize
that it does not pay to practice crop rotations that do not
include the turning under of at least one leguminous crop
every five years.
Another good use to which this surplus may be put is the
improvement of equipment by acquiring more horses and
better implements with which to do more thorough farming.
What is more pathetic on the farm than to see one man trying
10 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
to do the work of two or three. Our own experience has
taught us that too much work can hardly be put on good corn
ground when the crop is worth from fifty to sixty-five cents
per bushel. In every case additional work with us has meant
an increase in the margin of profit.
Spurred on by this we have gradually increased our farm
equipment until ^today we are employing considerably more
men by the year than we did ten years ago. Although we
grow fewer acres of corn and small grain, we have many
more horses in the field. This increase in equipment for the
purpose of better farming, (including the building of houses
for farm help), has cost us several thousand dollars, but
what are the results?
In the first place we are building up our farms by having
more time to haul manure from town. With three spreaders
we haul annually eight hundred tons of manure from the
town of Mason City. (See Chapter VII.) We are growing on
an average fifteen bushels of corn more per acre than we did
as late as ten years ago. With better land to start with we
are able to cut the stalks and double disc before plowing,
where corn follows corn. The corn is cultivated four to six
times, the last time being with a high arch gopher cultivator.
If the corn is too thick, it is thinned and suckered after the
last plowing. This sums up briefly what we are accomplishing
with our additional investment in equipment.
We are sure that what we have invested along the line of
more intensive farming has paid us well in dollars and cents,
and still better in satisfaction. What we have done is being
done by others and can be done by every land owner and
farmer in the corn belt.
What about the tenant farmer? Many tenant farmers
are among our best farmers and the tenant really has the
same opportunity as the landlord farmer, provided he has
been given a long term lease. A tenant would be more
than human if he tried to build up a farm when he felt that
his successor would reap the benefits of his labors. A five-
year lease with privilege of renewal, we consider a good fair
lease for an appreciative tenant who has first been tested out
on a one or two year lease.
FOUR FACTORS DETERMINE THE YIELD
Before taking up the culture of corn in detail, let us
state briefly the four factors which enter into the producing
of a crop of corn. They are: Culture, Soil, Seed and
Climate. In the first three chapters comprising culture we
shall ask the reader to go with us into the fields and stay
with us until the crop is laid by.
In the four chapters entitled "Building up the Land,"
we shall explain the methods followed by experiment stations
and the best farmers in their efforts to increase the fertility
of their farms. In addition to this, we give the results of our
own experience with rotations, manure and fertilizers.
The remaining chapters deal with the breeding, selecting,
drying and testing of corn for seed. All field and corn illus-
trations in the following chapters have been taken on our
own farms during the crop seasons of 1912 and 1913.
PREPARING THE SEED BED
Iron-clad rules cannot be laid down for preparing a seed
bed for corn. The methods suggested in this chapter have
been found practical on our own farms and have been tested
out from two to ten years. Our soil is a black level silt
loam, with a deep, porous subsoil that makes a natural drain-
age for surface water. A heavier soil would need more rolling,
and a lighter one would need less; so the farmer who would
benefit from reading this chapter should compare each opera-
tion carefully with his own practice and not make a change
until he has satisfied himself it is adapted to his local con-
There is a great diversity of opinion among farmers as
to the best method of preparing a seed bed. There is not
this difference of opinion as to what constitutes a good seed
bed. The best farmers agree that an ideal seed bed, to be in
good physical condition when the time comes to plant corn,
must be aerated and not run together. The soil particles
must be fine and free from lumps or clods. A maximum
amount of moisture is conserved in the subsoil by having
a shallow dust mulch on the surface. A large number of
weed seeds have been sprouted and all that show on the
surface have been killed immediately before planting. "We
PREPARING THE SEED BED
try as nearly as possible to have these conditions at planting
time. Our success varies with the season and the equipment
that we can put in the fields.
The implements used are those most commonly found in
Central Illinois, namely: two-row stalk cutters, single disc
harrows (disc pulverizers), gang and sulky plows, spike tooth
(Courtesy Parlln & Orentlorff.)
SINGLE-EOW STALK CUTTEE
harrows and a corrugated roller. All these implements; 'in-
cluding the harrow teeth, should be as sharp as the black-
smith can get them before spring work sets in. Five dollars
paid the blacksmith in getting tools in shape will save many
times that amount in horseflesh, besides doing a much better
job in the field.
14 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
WORK ON GROUND BEFORE PLOWING
The stalk cutter should be the first implement in the field
when corn follows corn. Unless the fields are very small, a
two-row cutter should be used in place of a single row. In
the first place, it gets over the ground twice as fast as a
single row cutter, and owing to its greater weight and better
balance does a much better job. The two-row cutters have
two tongues and are drawn by three horses. With this imple-
ment a good fast team will cut twenty acres in one day. All
the stalk cutters we have ever tried have been satisfactory;
but the farmer who has never used a stalk cutter must not
expect it to cut every stalk if the stalk growth is rank and
If the stalks are heavy it will be necessary to follow with
a disc harrow either single or double discing. Where a stalk
cutter is followed by a sharp disc, lapping half each time, the
heaviest growth of stalks will be cut and the ground left
level ready for the plow. If the ground is single disced
after the cutter it is advisable to have the horses walk on
the ridges. This cuts down the ridges and leaves the ground
For several years we dispensed with the use of the stalk
cutter in preference to double discing; but the objection to
this method was that the standing stalks continually worried
the team and the time lost would almost amount to the time
required to cut the stalks.
When practicable, it is a good plan to run the stalk cutter
on afternoons only, since the stalks are dryer and the cutter
does a much better job. The disc will do nearly as good a
job in the forenoon as it will in the afternoon.
We have tried breaking the stalks before discing, but the
results were very disappointing, since the stalks became so
PREPARING THE SEED BED 15
bunched between the rows that the disc, although very sharp,
would often ride over them.
When we first started, several years ago, to cut the stalks
on ground to go in corn, we felt that the objections would
almost offset the advantages to be gained. The stalks would
clog under the planter runners, and during the first cultiva-
tion many hills of corn would be lifted out by the cultivator
shovels catching the stalks. This was due to following
directly after the stalk cutter with the plow and the stalks
(Courtesy John Deene Plow Co.)
TOUE-HORSE GANG PLOW
This plow has two 12-inch bottoms
were not cut up sufficiently to turn under. During recent
years, when the stalks were properly cut up and turned under
as early as the 20th of April, we have had little trouble with
their bothering during corn cultivation. When the stalks are
turned under as late as the 10th of May, some little difficulty
may be experienced in cultivating the first time.
The question is often asked: Will soil dry out more
quickly when the stalks are turned under? The answer is,
16 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
if the stalks are turned under as early as the 15th of April,
they will be thoroughly water-soaked and partially rotted by
the time the corn is cultivated the first time. Stalks add
some humus to the soil the first year, and the more humus
there is in the soil, the better its moisture retaining qualities.
Decaying stalks are very beneficial in keeping the soil
loose. Loose soil allows the water to soak into the ground
during a rain. On the other hand, hard packed soil will shed
most of the rainfall "off, especially on hilly ground. On
hillsides, plowing stalks under is an additional benefit in that
it prevents washes.
Discing before plowing serves a three-fold purpose. It
cuts up the stalks, levels down the ridges, and pulverizes
the top soil, making a mulch of from two to four inches in
depth. This mulch aids greatly in the re-establishing of capil-
larity between the furrow slice and the bottom of the furrow.
Pulverizing improves the physical condition of the soil by
cutting up clods which could never be broken after they had
been turned under. It is the buried clod that is more detri-
mental than the one on top. . We consider the disc fully as
important an implement on the farm as either the plow or
the harrow. Our discs are kept bright and sharp and are
used over more acres than are the plows. Before the corn is
planted, the field is disced at least once. By discing before
and after plowing the furrow slice is pulverized clear through.
IMPORTANCE OP GOOD PLOWING
Since plowing is the slowest and most expensive of any
single operation on the farm, every effort should be made to
do it right. The furrow should be straight and uniform in
width and depth. The furrow slice should be clear cut and
all of the dirt moved. This does not mean that there should
PREPARING THE SEED BED
be a complete inversion of the furrow slice. With the excep-
tion of heavy sods it is better to have the furrow slice slightly
on edge since it will work up more easily than if completely
inverted. I The ends sought in plowing are to alter the texture
of the soil and to bring to the surface new soil ; to bury com-
pletely all vegetation and trash and to pulverize and aerate
This pulverizing and aerating of the soil we consider the
chief objects of plowing. The plow may invert the soil in
THREE -HORSE SULKY PLOW
This plow has one 16-inch bottom
the most perfect manner, but if the plow fails to do the
greater part of the pulverizing of the soil as well, and leaves
it in such condition that the disc and harrow cannot finish
the work in the cheapest and best manner, it is failing to
accomplish its principal function.
This pulverizing of the furrow slice is done largely by the
twist of the moldboard. For that reason a moldboard having
a medium twist should be used. At present we are using four
18 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
standard makes of gang plows on our farms, and the one
with the shortest twist is doing the best work. "We cannot
see but that it pulls as easy as the others. Since we have
never tested out the drafts of different twists of moldboards
we will quote from Prof. Roberts as follows:
"About 35% of the power necessary to plow is used up by
the friction due to the weight of the plow, and 55% by the
severing of the furrow slice and the friction of the landside.
If, after having done nine-tenths of the work, the plow allows
the furrow slice to escape without the greatest possible amount
of disintegration, great loss is sustained because the bolder
and more efficient moldboard may add but two or three per
cent to the draft."
We cannot recommend fall plowing of ground in Central
Illinois, except in the case of heavy sods which require the
erosion during the winter months to disintegrate the soil
sufficiently to work into a seed bed. Fall plowed ground
leaches badly unless plowed very late. Without a cover of
any kind, soil will wash during the early spring months,
even on land that is considered fairly level. To fall plow hill-
sides is to invite the formation of deep gulleys which will soon
make the field fit only for pasture land.
There are, in our opinion, just two good reasons for fall
plowing: First, the work is done at the slackest time of the
year when both men and teams might otherwise be idle.
Secondly, if the plowing is done late, it affords a splendid
opportunity to kill cutworms and other insects while they
are lying dormant in their winter quarters. During the last
five years we have fall plowed about ten per cent of our corn
ground and have winter plowed about five per cent. We
do not hesitate to plow clover sod in the winter time if the
PREPARING THE SEED BED
ground is not too wet. In this latitude there is only about
one winter in four when plowing is possible because of the
Fields which have been in corn the previous year must,
of necessity, be plowed in the spring. Just how early spring
plowing can start depends largely upon the weather during
(Courtesy John Deere Plow Co.)
FULL DISC HAKKQW WITH TEUCK
One of the necessary implements on the farm
March and April. A wet spring will delay plowing even on
well drained fields. So long as the furrow slice and the
particles of soil run together rather than crumble, plowing
had better be postponed, unless the^plowing is done very early
in the spring and is followed by several frosts.
There is no logic in the expression that "if ground is
plowed wet it should be worked wet all summer." Owing
to the rush of spring work we have sometimes plowed ground
20 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
when it was too wet. The results have always been very
unsatisfactory, since a dry August will make the corn fire
much more quickly than it would had the grounjd been broken
at the right time. In plowing stalk ground that has first
been disced, it is well not to allow too much time to inter-
vene between the two operations. It is a good plan to harrow
each morning what has been plowed the previous day. Time
is gained rather than lost by this practice since the plowed
ground must be harrowed and disced several times before a
satisfactory seed bed can be made. An hour 's work on freshly
plowed ground will do more toward making this seed bed
than can be accomplished in two hours' time after the wind
has been allowed to dry out the surface.
Another good reason for keeping plowed ground harrowed
is to conserve the moisture. One man and four horses with
a 120-tooth harrow Will get over from twenty-five to thirty-five
acres in one day. This will prevent the escape of more mois-
ture and consequently will grow more bushels of corn than
if an additional five acres had been plowed and the moisture
allowed to escape from the thirty acres.
The argument is often advanced that spring plowed ground
should not be worked down until the time to plant the corn
since beating rains would n|ke the soil too compact. This
idea is wrong. If hard rains do come and pack the soil, an
almost ideal seed bed can be secured by single or double
discing. If the looked for rains do not come, the farmer who
has worked his ground as he went along may have a seed bed
when it would be impossible, even with double the work, to
make one where the grqacd had been allowed to lie until
Every effort should be made to get the fields all plowed
and harrowed down before the weeds have an opportunity
to grow up in the stalk fields. A growth of weeds before
PREPARING THE SEED BED
plowing is injurious to the physical condition of the soil, since
it makes it compact and allows a rapid evaporation of mois-
ture. When the weeds are turned under later in the spring,
they destroy the capillarity between the furrow slice and the
bottom of the furrow.
The necessity for cutting stalks, discing, plowing and har-
rowing the corn ground all within a short period of three
A N S F I E l_D^,O H I O , U-S. A.
FULL DISC HAEEOW WITHOUT TEUCK
A popular disc in Illinois
or four weeks has brought about what the farmer calls "the
rush of spring work," but there is no way to get around it
if one expects to do good farming.
A great many agricultural writers (not many of them
active farmers, however) advocate eight hours as being all
a man and team should be made to stand in the field. This
may be all right from an ethical standpoint ; but every farmer
22 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
knows that it is impossible to hire extra men and teams on
short notice. When "rainy days off" are taken into con-
sideration, we think that a ten-hour day is not too much
to ask of either man or team. Most of our own farm help
come from Kentucky, where they are accustomed to plow
from "sun to sun," and consider ten hours in the field a
short day's work.
DEPTH OF PLOWING
The depth to which ground should be plowed in order to
give the best results must, of necessity, vary with conditions.
There is, perhaps, no subject on which farmers and writers
differ so widely as on the matter of the depth of plowing.
One writer says ' ' deep plowing of sandy land is not advisable,
particularly in the spring. On clay land deeper plowing
should be the rule." On the other hand, a corn lecturer of
national fame says: "What is known as deep plowing is
generally not advisable in the corn belt, although the loose
soils and bottom-lands may be plowed much deeper than the
black prairie soils with less danger of bad results." While
these two statements are not altogether contradictory, they
have, at least, a tendency to leave the reader in doubt.
In order to make ourselves more clearly understood, we
shall state that we consider six inches and over deep plowing,
and four inches and under shallow plowing. Plowing from
four to six inches deep may be considered as medium deep
The advocates of deep plowing claim that since a loose,
porous soil has a greater moisture holding capacity than a
more compact soil, the deeper the plowing the more moisture
will be retained. Deep plowing allows plant food to get
PREPARING THE SEED BED
deeper into the soil and thereby extends the feeding zone of
the root system.
Hillsides do not wash so badly when plowed deep, since
the rain can sink more easily into the soil than would be the
case if plowed shallow. If the plowing is going to be deeper
than six inches, it had best be done in the fall because the
fall rains, aided by the freezing and thawing of winter and
spring, will re-establish the capillary connection with the
subsoil. This capillarity is necessary for a good seed bed
and is not so readily re-established with deep plowing as
where the plowing is shallow.
(Courtesy Roderick Lean Mfg. Co.)
SPIKE-TOOTH LEVEE HAEROW
i r i
Plowing should not be at the same depth from year to
year, since such a practice does not mix the soil well and the
pressure of the plow and trampling of the horses will, in
time, solidify the bottom of the furrows. Where land has
been plowed four or five inches deep for a number of years,
we know of nothing that will make the farmer more money
for the added effort involved than to plow such land six or
seven inches deep and break up the crust.
We plow from five to seven inches deep, depending on
the time of the year, the condition of the ground, and what
we are turning under.
In fall plowing for corn we plow from six to seven inches,
24 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
or as deep as the team can pull the plow. When we are
turning under soy beans, however, the plowing is shallow
in order to allow the plants to rot more quickly. This ground
is plowed deep in the spring when the beans are put in.
In plowing stalks under we try to plow six inches deep,
if the ground is dry, since the stalks are covered better than
in plowing four or five inches deep. Never try to cover stalks
with only four inches of soil when the field is to go in
corn. Subsequent cultivations will drag them out and they
will be a continual source of annoyance throughout the crop
Blue-grass sod, or ground that has been in pasture for a
number of years, should be plowed in the fall. In plowing
blue-grass it is a good plan to plow very shallow in the fall
and follow with a plowing at least two inches deeper in the
spring. This is more work than is necessary to break any
other sod with which we are familiar. If the sod is very
tough, a wide angle moldboard should be used. This will
pull more easily and will turn the sod under much better
than the general purpose plows found on most farms. Clover
and timothy meadows that constitute a part of the short crop
rotations of the corn belt seldom become sodded enough to
necessitate the use of the sod plow.
If sod is plowed in the spring it should be done early.
Wet sod, although it turns up slick on the bottom of the
furrow slice, will not bake and become cloddy because of the
presence of such an abundance of humus. Owing to the rush
of farm work in the spring every effort should be made to get
the sod plowed by the time the corn stalk land is in condition
In some cases it might be well to break clover sod late in
order to enrich the land with the greater amount of nitrogen
PREPARING THE SEED BED 25
stored in the additional growth of clover. This plan is very
satisfactory if there be sufficient rainfall during May and
June. In the case of a dry summer, the clover will have
already used up a large part of the moisture stored in the
soil so that there is but little left for the corn. Our own
experience with early and late plowed clover sod showed a
difference in the yield of corn of nearly thirty bushels in
favor of the early plowing. This was in the spring of 1911.
In 1911 there was ample rainfall during May and the first
half of June. As a result, late plowed clover sod made a
good showing. This year (1913) has been hot and dry, and
corn planted on late plowed sod has been almost a failure,
while some early spring plowed clover sods have made as high
as seventy bushels.
PREPARATION OF PLOWED GROUND BEFORE PLANTING
An ideal seed bed, as stated in the beginning of this
chapter, should be aerated and not run together. At the
same time, the soil particles should be compressed closely
around the seed in order to insure quick and even germina-
tion. A maximum amount of moisture should be conserved
in the subsoil by having a shallow dust mulch on the surface.
Last, but not least in importance, a large number of weed
seed would have sprouted, and all that show on the surface
should be killed immediately before planting. When the
greater part of the weeds are killed before planting and the
seed bed is moist and free from clods it can safely be said
that the crop is half provided for.
Since the method of preparing the seed bed is determined
largely by the local condition of soil and climate, we shall not
attempt to give general directions for working the ground
which might apply to one farm but not to another. Instead,
we shall outline the methods followed on our own farms.
26 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
As we have stated, each day's plowing is harrowed the
next morning. If a hard rain comes, all the ground pre-
viously plowed is again harrowed before proceeding with the
plowing. If the rainfall is very heavy and many weeds have
started, the ground is single pulverized in place of being
This year we had no rain on over two hundred acres
from the time the ground was plowed until after the corn
was planted. This was a period of four weeks without even
a shower. No amount of work could make an ideal seed
bed under such conditions. We did what we could to
pulverize the soil and conserve what moisture we had. After
the ground had been plowed and harrowed twice, it was rolled
with a corrugated roller. This was followed immediately with
the disc harrows lapping half.
When the discing was finished, the ground was harrowed
cross-wise of the discing. This harrowing pulled most of
the clods to the top. For this reason we followed the harrow
with a second rolling. The fields were then harrowed twice
by lapping half and followed immediately by the planter
equipped with furrow openers.
Double discing is a slow operation. At the same time, it
is the best implement we know with which to preserve mois-
ture, facilitate seed bed preparation, and hasten decay of
organic matter. A sharp, bright disc with the levers set well
forward will work in and through the furrow slice; while
smoothing harrows and corrugated rollers work only the sur-
face. Four good horses and an eight-foot disc harrow will
double disc (lapping half each time and leaving the ground
level) forty acres in five days. Repeated discings, by keep-
ing down all vegetable growth, will destroy, by starvation and
exposure, all such insects as the corn-root louse, cutworms
PREPARING THE SEED BED 27
On most soils, with a normal amount of rainfall in the
spring, the roller is not needed to prepare the seed bed for
corn. Two harrowings with a double discing between, just
before planting, will put the seed bed in ideal shape three
years out of four.
We seldom roll directly ahead of the planter and never
behind. Our experience has been that rolling causes the
weeds to start quickly, which is not desirable after the corn
is planted. Some implement should precede directly ahead
of the planter in order to get a last whack at sprouted weed
seeds before planting. If disc markers are used, the driver
of the planter will have a plain mark in the freshly worked
dirt. The use of the disc marker does away with the necessity
of rolling in order to see the mark.
HAVE SUFFICIENT EQUIPMENT
We know by experience that sufficient time is not often
given to the preparation of the seed bed before planting. This
is due mostly to having more ground in corn than can properly
be prepared and tended. In the corn belt, where corn is king,
it takes nearly twice as many horses and men to handle eighty
acres of corn as it does to handle forty acres. Very often
it is. better to cut down the corn acreage rather than go to
the expense of buying more equipment.
The farmer should be prepared to handle his field work on
unusual seasons when additional work is required to make
a proper seed bed. No one can say beforehand how much
work will be required to get a field in shape for planting.
A field of clover sod that is plowed in the fall can sometimes
be put in good shape with a single discing and one or two
harrowings. It is usually better, however, to double disc if
for no other reason than that the ground is left level.
28 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
An example of a field that required a great deal of work
was a blue-grass sod that we plowed shallow in the fall. This
field was double pulverized twice, harrowed three times and
rolled once and then was not in good shape for planting
the corn. The winter was dry and the sod did not rot as
it usually does. If this field could have been plowed about
five or six inches deep it would not have required so much
work in the spring. We know of a stalk field where the stock
were allowed to run late, that broke up so cloddy that it re-
quired six alternate rollings and harrowings to make a seed
bed. Although there were some clods left, the field produced
eighty-five bushels to the acre and the farmer was well paid
for his thorough work.
Frank Mann sums up this situation when he says : ' ' There
is no way to get ground in good condition except to work it,
and the worse condition it is in the more work is needed."
Some soils require more work than others. Additional
implements can be purchased on short notice, but men and
horses have to be arranged for in advance. One can never
tell how much time one will have in which to prepare ground
in the spring for corn. In this latitude we do well to get
our oats in by the fifth of April. If the weather is favorable
and the ground warm, we start planting corn by the fifth
of May. If wet weather kept us out of the field a week or
ten days in April, we have only three weeks in which to
prepare the corn ground. In our own practice we average
using one horse for every eight acres that we intend to put
in corn. Some of these are brood mares and are used only
during the preparation of the seed bed, when every imple-
ment requires four horses. We consider this ratio about
right for the average season. Sometimes we could get along
with fewer horses, but more often it would pay us to have
WHEN TO BEGIN PLANTING
Since the most mature corn is always the result of early
planting, the farmer should make every effort to have his
ground in shape by the time of year that planting is generally
begun. Then, if the ground is too cold, he should wait until
it warms up. We have made numerous germination tests
which have convinced us that corn will not germinate or grow
to advantage when the temperature of the soil is below sixty
degrees. If the temperature is below fifty degrees for a week
or ten days, some of the sprouted grains, although the seed
is of the very best, will rot in the ground.
From the fifth to the twentieth of May is considered the
best time to plant corn in Central Illinois. The time varies,
in any locality, from one to two weeks, depending on the
soil and the weather. In the western part of Mason County,
which is very sandy, planting can safely be started a week
or ten days earlier than in the eastern part, where there is
a heavier loam which does not warm up so quickly as the
An old-time general rule was to "Plant corn when the
leaves on the white oak tree are as large as a squirrel 's foot. ' '
There is considerable significance in this fact, as the oak is
tardy in showing its leaves until the ground has had its spring
warming. Another good rule is to wait until volunteer corn
has started to grow around the cribs and barns. If the season
is very backward and the weather-man assures us that warmer
30 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
weather is on the road it is sometimes advisable to start plant-
ing even if the ground is a little cold, in order to finish before
the season is too far advanced. \A.t the Illinois Experiment
Station at Urbana (latitude forty degrees), a six year's test
shows the largest yield to come from corn planted May 4th to
PROPER DEPTH OF PLANTING
The depth of planting, like the time of planting, is governed
to a considerable extent by the nature of the soil and the
amount of moisture near the surface. On warm, light soil,
corn should be planted deeper than where it is cold and heavy.
Again, the depth of planting will be governed largely by the
time of planting. In early planting, only the surface soil is
warm enough to germinate the kernels. The subsoil is still
wet and cold. Later, when the surface soil has become
warmer and dryer, the seed may be planted deeper.
In planting corn, the fact must be kept in mind that for
quick germination plenty of air and warmth are just as
essential as moisture. Nine years out of ten there is enough
moisture in the soil to sprout the corn, although the season
of 1913 was an exception. It was then necessary to plant
about four inches deep in Central Illinois in order to provide
sufficient moisture. While we planted over four inches deep
the season mentioned, we used furrow openers on the planter
runners so that by throwing out a furrow it was not necessary
to cover the seed with more than two inches of dirt. We
always use furrow openers on our planters and vary the
depth of the furrow according to the condition of the ground,
but in no case do we cover the seed with more than two
inches of dirt. About one and one-half inches over the seed
seems to bring the best results on our brown silt prairie soil.
Repeated experiments have proved that plants cannot
be made to send their roots deep into the soil by planting deep.
If the object is to fortify the plant against dry weather, it
is best to plant the seed in a furrow and then gradually
cultivate the furrow full of soil as the plants grow.
In an experiment at the Illinois Experiment Station, cover-
ing a period of five years, corn was planted at depths ranging
from one inch to seven inches. The greatest yields resulted
from planting one inch deep.
YIELD IN BUSHELS PER ACRE FROM CORN PLANTED AT
DEPTH PLANTED IN INCHES
NOTE: The above table -was taken from Bulletin No. 31 Illinois Station.
The soil at the experiment station is a deep retentive prairie soil.
Too deep planting is the rule rather than the exception,
especially in the case of early planting when the ground
is still cold. We know of ten cases where poor stands are
the result of too deep planting where one case is the result
of too shallow planting. If it is necessary to get the seed
into the ground, use furrow openers which will cover at a
uniform depth, besides throwing all the clods out of the
The advantage of drilling corn is that one kernel is
dropped in a place. Standing singly as it does, each plant
has a fairer chance both- below and above the ground to
develop normally and produce well. It requires less care
32 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
to drill than to check. This is especially true of timber-
land that is covered with stumps.
Drilled com is not so liable to blow down in heavy sum-
mer winds. We believe, however, that this advantage is
fully offset by the freer circulation of air through fields
planted in hills. A free circulation of air around the corn
(Courtesy John Deere riow Co.)
MODEEN CHECK EOWEE PLANTEE
PLANTING IN HILLS
plants in August has a tendency to prevent firing. We
sometimes drill sod fields if the ground is free from weeds.
Three styles of modern planters are used in planting corn
in hills: the round hole, or hill drop, the cumulative edge
drop, and the kernel spaced edge drop. All of these are
operated with a wire to check off the kernels in the hills.
Round Hole or Hill Drop: This is the least complicated
and the easiest to keep in repair of the check-rower planters.
The round holes in the plates are large enough to admit all
the kernels for one hill in each hole. Another advantage of
this planter is the fact that the hole, being so large, accom-
modates kernels of varying sizes. This planter is the best
for poorly graded seed; but in. our opinion poorly graded
seed has no place in good farming.
Cumulative Edge Drop: The edge drop planter is a later
invention than the hill drop and is very popular in the Corn
Belt, since by using uniformly graded seed it will plant with
a greater degree of accuracy than the older style hill drop.
This style of planter has a number of smaller holes around the
outside edge of the plate. Each hole or slot holds just one
grain which is admitted on edge. The plate, revolving almost
continually, makes a quarter of one revolution for each hill
planted. When the proper number of kernels have been
counted out they are checked off by the check wire. Since
graded corn varies less in thickness than in any other dimen-
sion, it can easily be seen that the edge drop planter should
plant graded corn with a higher degree of accuracy than the
hill drop planter, or the cumulative drop planter, which
take the kernel flat.
We have used several different makes of cumulative edge
drop planters on our farms during the last fifteen years.
Until recently the weak point seemed to be in the dog which
causes the plate to turn exactly one-quarter revolution while
the planter is moving from one wire link to another. This
defect has been overcome and today an edge drop planter
with graded corn, in the hands of an intelligent driver, is
almost as dependable as a gang plow.
Kernel Spaced Checking: A new method of planting corn
is known as kernel spaced checking. This method requires
a special planter which has been gotten out in the last few
years. In kernel spaced checking the kernels are placed at
.the corners of a five-inch square or triangle instead of being
bunched, as in other methods. Since each stalk stands singly
34 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
as in drilled corn, the advocates of this method claim for
it all the advantages of drilling and checking without the dis-
advantages of either.
For the farmer who plants three or four grains in one
hill, kernel spaced checking would perhaps increase the yield,
unless there was more of a tendency to sucker than when the
kernels were bunched. Since we never plant more than two
and three kernels in a hill, we do not think that the advan-
tage to be gained, would justify us in going to the expense
of trying out this new method. A government bulletin by C.
P. Hartley, entitled "A More Profitable Corn Planting
Method," deals with the subject of kernel spaced checking
The chief advantage of planting in hills is that the check-
ing enables the corn to be cross cultivated and kept free
from weeds and the entire soil surface kept in good condi-
tion without the expensive labor of hoeing. Checking has
continued to grow in popularity until today nine-tenths of
the corn in the Corn Belt is planted in hills. Experimental
work thus far conducted indicates that it makes but little
difference, so far as yield is concerned, whether corn is grown
in drills or in hills, provided the drilled corn is kept clean.
Our own experience has satisfied us that on average corn
land checked corn will outyield drilled corn; while on rich
blue-grass or alfalfa sod, where as much as three grains would
be planted in a hill, if checked, the drilled corn would make
a slightly better showing, granting that clean culture be main-
ADVANTAGES IN PLANTING WITH A CHECK ROWER
Straight rows and even checking mean better cultivation
and larger yields. Crooked rows are usually the result of
carelessness or indifference, although the planter is often
36 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
to blame for uneven checking. Uneven checking inay be due
to several causes. If the wire is too tight the planter checks
too soon ; if too loose it checks too late. To check true the
driver should form the habit of always drawing the wire to
a uniform tightness. While the slack should be kept out
of the wire the driver should never form the habit of putting
the point of the stake in the ground and using it as a lever
to tighten the wire. This practice makes the wire too tight
for even checking besides causing undue wear on both the
wire and planter. If the planter checks too soon the shoes
or runners should be pulled back. On all makes of planters
w r ith which we are familiar, there is a place on the tongue,
(where it is bolted to the planter), to make this adjustment.
If the checking is only a trifle "out" it may be corrected
by shortening or lengthening the breast straps by which
the tongue is raised or lowered.
Disc FURROW OPENERS
Disc furrow openers consist of small frames and two discs
each. The frames are fastened to the shoes of the planter
so that the discs are on each side of the runner. The bottom
of the discs are from one to two inches above the bottom
of the runners, depending on how deep the corn is to be
covered. The purpose of these discs is to throw out a furrow
from two to five inches in depth. The corn is planted in
the bottom of this furrow.
We have used furrow openers on nine-tenths of our plant-
ing for over five years, and can say without hesitation that
they are a wonderful aid in maintaining clean culture. With
the aid of the furrow opener and the high arch surface culti-
vator, our cornfields are as clean at husking time as they
were formerly after the first plowing. The use of the furrow
opener gives us a chance to cover all the weeds in the hill
with the first plowing. By plowing with high arch cultivators
after the corn is from three to seven feet high, all weeds
are killed after the ground is shaded.
Where furrow openers are used, the depth of the furrow
is regulated by the lever which raises or lowers the runners,
but in order to vary the depth of planting it is necessary to
raise or lower the discs on the planter shoes. In our own
practice we set the discs to throw out a furrow of sufficient
depth to remove all weed sprouts and dry dirt from the
furrow. To accomplish this requires a furrow of from two
to four inches deep, depending on the dryness of the seed
bed. Those who have used furrow openers know that, being
a perfect gauge, their use insures a uniform depth of
Although the corn is planted from three to five inches
below the surface of the field, it is not covered by much
more than an inch of dirt. It is, however, all moist soil,
since the dry dirt has all been thrown out by the discs.
Some plant in a very deep furrow, but we do not recom-
mend this, since the sub-surface is often too cold for quick
germination. After a hard rain, water may stand in the
furrows if they are very deep.
There are some soils and conditions where the use of the
furrow openers would not prove practical. On low, wet land
where the water level is near the surface, the furrows might
stand full of water too long after heavy rains. The use of
furrow openers has not proved a success on very hilly land,
since the rainfall will gather in the furrows and wash out
While we have mentioned these objections to the use of
furrow openers, the reader should bear in mind the fact
lhat the first plowing fills up the furrow and leaves the ground
NOTE: More will be said about furrow openers in the next chapter.
38 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
The process of "Listing" is peculiarly "Western, practiced
on the big cornfields of Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska, and other
corn-growing states west of the Mississippi. In the western
part of the Corn Belt, where there is generally a deficiency
in rainfall, listing is undoubtedly the best method of plant-
From what listing we have seen we must say that we
prefer the check rower planter with furrow openers attached
for the more humid parts of the Corn Belt, since we believe
the seed bed can be better prepared than is possible with
In the April 1st issue (1913) of the Twentieth Century
Farmer, there appeared an article by M. A. Coverdell,
entitled "Listing, Best Method of Planting Corn." This
article is so clear in explaining the process and after culture
that it is inserted here in its entirety :
"By listing the land once, letting it stand a week or two, then split-
ting the ridges and listing again, practically the same porosity of soil will
have been established as with stirring and planting by planter, while
the crop of weeds that springs up between the two operations will
be easier to keep free of these pests through the whole season.
"Lister ridges will dry off and permit of cultivation much quicker
than will the flat surface of land planted to corn with a planter. At the
same time, the drilled corn in listing, being deposited at a greater depth
from the surface than that planted with a planter, it will have a greater
supply of available moisture at hand, and thus will resist a drouth better
than the shallower planted corn.
"Listed corn is much easier to tend than even check-row corn. A
good harrowing should be given just as soon after drilling as possible
before the plants are through the ground if convenient. This enables
us to do the job quicker than after the corn is up and has to be
watched to prevent covering, and destroys all weed growth, leaving the
corn a fair chance to grow, with no weeds to smother it back or sap the
moisture from the soil.
"We follow the harrow with a land roller, which crowds con-
siderable fine dirt into the furrow, crushes the clods and leaves the
soil in fine condition for future cultivation. While we have secured
good results at this first cultivating with common fenders, better re-
sults will be realized if a box about three feet long is allowed to drag
between the cultivator shovels for keeping the clods off the corn plants.
We use a V-shaped box, which allows the fine, moist dirt to roll in
behind it and down against the corn, covering the weeds and nourish-
ing the plant as only such mellow soil can.
' ' One more cultivation ought to level the furrows and rid the
rows of all weeds, leaving the third plowing to hill the corn up slightly.
Avoid cultivating too close to the stalks, rather allowing the shovels to
run a short distance away and throw the soil against the corn. Where
one leaves the ridges too sharp at laying-by, it promotes root growth
too far up on the stalks; this ridge washes away a little later, and
the tender lower portions of the stalk thus exposed to the heat of the
sun, usually so extreme at this season, are literally scorched. This is
sure to cut down the yield of the corn. We give the corn a gently
sloping hilling-up at laying by, and continue to promote the dust mulch
by working between the rows with the five-shovel cultivator, sometimes
practicing this even after the corn is in tassel.
' ' As here shown, it requires considerably less labor to produce corn
where the land is listed than if planted by the corn planter, since it
can be put in the ground quicker and easier, cultivated with less work
and greater ease, and will actually yield more, one year with another.
Other advantages that add materially to the excellence of listing are:
The roots of the corn are so deeply set in the soil that they brace
and hold the stalks in an upright position, thus avoiding the damage
often resulting from planted corn being blown down by the wind;,
also making a field of listed corn more agreeable to husk in. Then,
this same deep-root system leaves less of the stalk above the soil, and
so lowers the relative height of the ear from the ground, thus leaving
it where it can' be easily and quickly reached at husking time. This
advantage can be appreciated only after husking the high, unhandy
ears in a field that was planted by planter.
"M. A. COVERDELL."
DISTANCE APART OF PLANTING
The distance between the rows of corn varies from as
close as three feet, in the North, to as far apart as six feet
in the South. The closeness of the rows in the North is due :
first, to the fact that the earlier varieties planted do not grow
more than half as tall as do the later maturing varieties grown
in the South; secondly, to the fact that it is more difficult
to obtain a stand in the extreme northern edge of the Corn
Belt, which makes it necessary to plant closer in order to
make up for the greater number of missing hills. In the
Southeast, where there is as much as six feet between the rows
of corn, it will generally be found that cowpeas are grown
between the corn rows. This makes three feet between the
row of corn and the adjacent row of peas. It is advisable,
in most cases, to have the corn rows at least three feet six
inches apart in order to have plenty of room to cultivate.
This is especially true where heavy draft horses and riding
cultivators are used.
Most of the cornfields in the Corn Belt proper are planted
in rows varying from three feet four inches to three feet
eight inches in width, and in nearly all cases a three-foot
six-inch check wire is used. The majority of Iowa farmers
plant three feet six inches both ways. In Central Illinois
a large part of the corn is planted three feet six inches in
the row with the rows three feet eight inches apart.
NUMBER OF STALKS PER HILL
There is considerable difference of opinion in regard to
the proper number of stalks to the hill. That this difference
of opinion should exist is only natural since the proper number
of stalks to secure the largest yield is determined by several
conditions. The number of stalks for the largest yield will
depend on the distance between the rows, the latitude, the
variety grown and the richness of the land. One general rule
is that where corn is grown for the grain, each plant should
have sufficient space to permit its fullest development. This
is especially true where the corn is being grown for seed.
The Illinois Experiment Station has carried on extensive
experiments to determine what influence the number of kernels
per hill has upon the yield. The results are shown in the
following tables :
TABLE 1. SUMMARY OF AVERAGE YIELD FROM ALL FIELDS IN NORTH-
ERN ILLINOIS; MYRTLE, SYCAMORE AND DEKALB
Figures indicate actual yields, bushels per acre
TWO KERNELS PER HILL
THREE KERNELS PER HILL
PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
TABLE 2. SUMMARY OF AVERAGE YIELDS FROM ALL FIELDS IN CENTRAL
ILLINOIS; URBANA, SIBLEY AND MATTOON
Figures indicate actual yields, bushels per acre
TWO KERNELS PER HILL
THREE KERNELS PER HILL
TABLE 3. AVERAGE YIELDS FROM DISTANCE PLOTS IN NORTHERN ILLI-
NOIS ON LAND PRODUCING OVER FIFTY BUSHELS PER ACRE,
COMPARED WITH THOSE FROM LAND PRODUCING LESS THAN
TWO KERNELS PER HILL
THREE KERNELS PER HILL
PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
TABLE 4. AVERAGE YIELDS FROM DISTANCE PLOTS IN CENTRAL ILLI-
NOIS ON LAND PRODUCING OVER FIFTY BUSHELS PER ACRE,
COMPARED WITH THOSE FROM LAND PRODUCING LESS THAN
More than 50 bu.
Less than 50 bu.
TWO KERNELS PER HILL
THREE KERNELS PER HILL
NOTE: The above tables are taken from Bulletin No. 126, Illinois Ex-
periment Station. This bulletin is by Albert N. Hume. O. D. Center and
The conclusions drawn from these tables show that in all
cases but one the rows should be farther apart each way
where three kernels are planted per hill and closer together
where just two kernels are planted per hill.
The first two tables take into consideration all kinds of
soils, while the last two make a comparison between strong
land and thin land. They show that the rows should be
ROLLING AND HARROWING CORN JUST AS IT IS COMING
THROUGH THE GROUND
The corn is protected from the harrow teeth by being planted in a furrow
closer on strong land than on thin land, or, keeping the rows
the same distance, more kernels can be planted per hill on
the stronger land than on thin land.
All of the tables indicate that in Northern Illinois rows
may be planted closer and thicker than in Central Illinois.
46 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
This, as we have stated before, is due to the smaller, more
early maturing varieties grown in Northern Illinois.
For a. number of years we have planted in rows three feet
six inches apart each way. Of late years we have planted
mostly two and three kernels alternately to the hill. In a
few instances we have planted three kernels for the earlier
varieties. While our primary object in planting only two
and three kernels in the hill is to secure the largest number
of bushels of fine seed ears, we do not think we have lost
anything in total yield. "We have grown as much as ninety
bushels per acre on strong ground when planting two and
three kernels to the hill.
(Courtesy O; F. Orndoff.)
DISC FUREOW OPENER
The importance of planting the proper number of ker-
nels to the hill is apparent to every thinking farmer. Since
the number is determined by many varying conditions, it
will pay every farmer to make experiments along this line
on his own farm. By planting in alternate plots two kernels,
two and three kernels, and three kernels per hill, every
farmer can determine for himself, in the course of two or
three years, just what is the proper amount of corn to plant
per acre on his own particular farm.
We doubt that it pays to replant corn when the stand
is as good as seventy per cent. Before replanting corn, sev-
eral things should be taken into consideration. The remain-
ing hills, provided clean culture is maintained, will yield
correspondingly better because they have more room for
fuller development than had the stand been perfect. This
partly makes up for the loss sustained by the missing hills.
If only the missing hills are replanted they will be shaded
by the taller surrounding stalks, which causes the replanted
hills to yield little or nothing.
If the stand is so poor the field must be replanted, it is
best to single or double disc and replant the whole field
with the planter. This plan kills all weeds and usually
results in a perfect stand. Never replant corn between the
rows of the first planting. This careless method generally
results in weedy corn. Before discing up the first planting,
determine whether or not a replanted field will have a chance
to reach maturity with a normal season. When it is necessary
to replant, it is a good plan to plant an early maturing
variety if possible.
Like all other corn growers, we have found it necessary
at times to replant some fields. In some cases, however, we
have replanted and in the fall after making a comparison
with a few rows left as a check, we found that the first
planting yielded more bushels per acre of sound corn than
the last planting. Mistakes like this incur a double loss:
First, there is a loss in yield, and secondly, there is loss in
time consumed, which is often the greater loss of the two.
We are still old-fashioned enough to believe that the chief
object in cultivating corn is to destroy and prevent the growth
of weeds. A good crop of weeds and a good crop of corn
are never grown on the same land. Weeds not only feed on
the food the corn should have, but they will pump off the
needed moisture in time of drouth and interfere with the
economical handling of the crop at harvest.
Next to destroying weeds, the object of cultivation should
be to conserve the moisture by stirring the soil at frequent
intervals in order to secure a mulch.
Besides killing weeds and conserving moisture the culti-
vator should aerate, warm, and loosen the soil to allow the
roots to extend into the ground. There are a number of good
methods of cultivating corn. Any culture that keeps the
fields clean of weeds and at the same time does it without
pruning the corn roots may be considered a good method,
although perhaps not so economical and efficient as some
HARROWING AND ROLLING
Harrowing corn kills millions of weeds when they are
most easily killed, before they are up. It prevents the for-
mation of a crust and, most important of all, it goes over a
larger area in a short space of time. If a hard rain comes
before the corn is up we harrow all that we have planted
as soon as conditions will permit us to get on the field. We
do this harrowing whether we are through planting or not.
The harrows are the heavy type spike harrows and are
run with the teeth straight down. We drive the same way
the corn is planted. As stated in the previous chapter, fur-
row openers are used on the planter runners. By using this
attachment all the corn plants are in a furrow which protects
them from the harrow teeth.
If the field is cloddy, as is sometimes the case in dry sea-
sons, the harrow is preceded by the roller. This pulverizes
the clods and prevents the harrow from dragging them into
the furrow. The first planted fields are often harrowed twice
(Courtesy John Deere Plow Co.)
COMBINATION BIDING AND WALKING
before we have finished planting the last. (See illustrations.)
Unless furrow openers have been used we do not advocate
harrowing corn after it is up. In some cases the weeder
might be an improvement over the harrow in cultivating
DEPTH OP CULTIVATION
There is more or less difference of opinion on this partic-
ular point. The objections to surface cultivation, when it
50 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
extends over the entire cultivating season, are that it has a
tendency to pack the soil, and is not as effective as deep
culture in destroying weeds. The objection to deep culture,
when it extends over the entire season, is that it cuts the
corn roots, thereby decreasing the yield. Both of these
objections are undoubtedly well made. "We have tried sur-
face cultivation (with gopher blades) throughout the three
or four cultivations, and have compared it with deeper cul-
ture over a like period. "With the deeper culture the corn
was cleaner and the seed bed was not so packed. Notwith-
standing this, some roots were cut by the deeper cultivating
which made the surface cultivated fields show about the
We are thoroughly convinced that any method of culti-
vation that destroys a portion of the corn roots is disastrous
to the corn plant and reduces the yield in proportion to the
amount of roots destroyed. Deep culture that prunes the
roots after the corn is three feet high may decrease the yield
from three to twenty bushels per acre, depending on the
amount of rainfall following. If a heavy rainfall comes
just after the cutting of the roots, the injury will be slight,
but if the pruning process is followed by several weeks of
hot, dry weather the injury will be severe. In our efforts
to maintain clean culture without pruning the roots, we use
shovel plows during the first three cultivations and finish
with a fourth plowing, using a high arch surface cultivator.
This plan, of course, is varied somewhat, depending on the
season and the foulness of the field.
We start plowing the first field as soon as we finish plant-
ing. If the corn is four or five inches high, six-shovel riding
cultivators are used; but if it is smaller than this we prefer
walking shovel plows. Fenders are used for the first plowing
and the shovels are run from three to four inches deep. Since
the corn is planted in furrows, the dirt always meets around
the hills and covers all the small weeds. All the shovels are
pointed straight ahead and the field is left level after the
first plowing. If the ground has been packed by a beating
rain, the harrow precedes the plow the first time over.
By using furrow openers and harrowing the corn once
The corn in this picture is about four inches tall and is being
plowed with six-shovel riding cultivator
or twice while it is small, it can readily be seen that the corn
will not need to be plowed as small as is sometimes necessary
when it is not harrowed. Before trying out the furrow open-
ers we imagined that the first plowing would be more difficult
than where the hill was on the level of the field ; but we found
to our satisfaction that it was much easier to do a good job
since it is not necessary to plow so close to the hill in order
52 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
to make the dirt meet. The use of the furrow openers helps
the corn to withstand a drouth since the root zone is devel-
oped deeper in the soil. (See frontispiece.)
The field is cross cultivated just as soon as we can get
to it, and that is seldom soon enough. The cultivating is
done with shovel plows, plowing from three to four inches
deep if the corn is small and we are sure that we are not cut-
ting any corn roots. If the corn is ten inches tall, we do
not plow more than three inches deep unless the field is foul.
It is not necessary to plow as close to the hill the second
time over in order to make the dirt meet since the hill is
on a level and not on a small ridge as would be the case
had furrow openers not been used.
If rains have formed a crust on the ground, the third
plowing is started just as soon as the last acre has been
crossed. We do not like the corn to be more than eighteen
inches high when it is plowed the third time. Unless we
have a very wet season there are very few weeds to kill when
we start on the third cultivation. Since the dirt should meet
it is sometimes necessary to turn the shovels slightly inward
but we try to throw up as small a ridge as possible. The
shovels are run as shallow as is practicable. This plowing
is easy and fast teams often average as much as nine acres
in one day.
For the third cultivation the corn is plowed the same
way it is planted. Our method of plowing corn the first
three times is perhaps the most common method used in the
Corn Belt, excepting that we seldom stop between the second
and third plowings. If the first crop of clover is ready to
be cut before we get over the corn the third time, it will have
to wait or rot down and enrich the land. We have never felt
that we could afford the price of weedy corn to take care
of hay that is worth at least eight dollars per ton to let lay
as a fertilizer. We generally have time to put up enough
hay for our own use after the third plowing and before
wheat harvest sets in.
We start plowing the fourth time when the corn is be-
tween three and four feet tall. We prefer to plow it when
it is five feet tall, since the ground is completely shaded by
that time. If this plowing is not immediately followed by
a rain, the corn will be as free from weeds at husking time
as the day it was plowed. Experience has taught us that
corn will usually be weedy in the fall if it is laid by early,
even though it is perfectly clean when it is laid by. This
fact alone should convince any doubtful reader that there is
an additional profit to be gained by surface cultivation after
the ground is shaded.
To facilitate the plowing of tall corn without breaking
it down, we have had several cultivators (gopher plows)
built up so as to have a clearance of four feet. We plow the
same way with these plows as we do the third time with the
shovel plows. (See illustrations.)
These surface cultivators are set so as to plow very shal-
low. The back of the inside blades are above the surface and
serve merely to pull the dirt up to the hill. We have arched
neckyokes on the tongues. They are made out of eveners
off of old walking cultivators. We have tried crossing the
corn a second time for the fourth cultivation, but it was not
as satisfactory, since in pulling through the small ridges
made by the third plowing, some of the corn roots would be
cut. Again, in crossing tall corn a careless driver will some-
times cut off a stalk when they are strung out.
PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
Last year we plowed nearly seventy acres with one of
these built up surface plows after the corn had started to
tassel out. One field yielded ninety-four bushels to the acre.
It was second-sod, having been in corn the previous year.
These plows do better work than mower wheels, or plows
made to run between the rows, because they do not cut the
roots or bruise the stalks. Any man delights in running one
because he is high enough to get the breeze if there is any.
(Courtesy Tower Cultivator Co.)
HIGH AKCH SUEFACE CULTIVATOR
Made especially for plowing tall corn
We are not condemning one-horse implements that go between
the rows. Anyone is making more than good wages who
stirs the ground and conserves the moisture no matter what
kind of an implement he uses. On account of this fourth
plowing, usually coming during wheat harvest, we generally
put the regular hands on the plows and hire extra help to
do the wheat and oat shocking.
Land is becoming too high priced in the Corn Belt for
the farmer to be satisfied with three cultivations. Some years
three cultivations are sufficient, but more often four or five
will pay when corn is worth from fifty to sixty cents per>
bushel. The practical farmer realizes too well that he can
hardly expect to have a loose mulch between his corn rows
in August and September unless he works these rows after
they are shaded. The great question at this busy season of
the year has been to find the time and a method that would
not injure the roots or break down the corn.
Our first built-up cultivator has been in use four years.
It was raised sixteen inches at a cost of three dollars. The
work was done by the local blacksmith. We believe this was
the first cultivator made to plow tall corn that straddled the
row. Our new cultivators are more satisfactory since they
were built up at the factory. There was no additional charge
made for this and they can be used as low cultivators. A
disc cultivator built up to plow tall corn might be an im-
provement over the gophers for some sections.
ADDITIONAL BEADING ON CORN CULTURE
The Farmers Review. March 15, 1913. "Some Corn Expe-
rience." A. W. Sarty.
Twentieth Century Farmer. February 22, 1913. "Han-
dling Soil for Production."
The Breeders' Gazette. May 7, 1913. "Seed Bed a Factor
in Corn Fields." J. C. Hackleman.
Prairie Farmer. April 1, 1913. "Getting Ready for the
Corn Crop." W. T. and Ralph M. Ainsworth.
Prairie Farmer. May 15, 1913. "Methods of Corn Culti-
vation for Bumper Yields." Ralph M. Ainsworth.
"Corn Cultivation." Farmers' Bulletin 414. C. P. Hartley.
"How to Grow an Acre of Corn." Farmers' Bulletin 537.
C. P. Hartley.
56 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
"A More Profitable Corn Planting Method." Farmers' Bul-
letin 400. C. P. Hartley.
"Distance Between Hills." Illinois Bulletin 126. Hume,
Center and Hegnauer.
"Successful Corn Culture." Prof. P. G. Holden.
"Soil Book." Frank I. Mann.
"How to Grow 100 Bushels of Corn per Acre on Worn
Land." Win. C. Smith.
"The Fertility of the Land." Isaac Phillips Roberts.
BUILDING UP THE LAND
THE ROTATION OF FARM CROPS
The rotation of crops is one of the best established prin-
ciples of modern agricultural science; also, one of the most
It would seem that the early settlers on the rich virgin
prairies of the Central "West gave little or no thought to the
possibility that the wonderful fertility of the land would ever
be exhausted. Crop after crop of corn planted on the same
fields for many seasons in succession did not, for a long time,
diminish the yield.
After fifteen or twenty years of such cultivation, the lands
failed to respond as at first. Yields fell off and lands that
formerly produced from sixty to seventy bushels of corn per
acre dropped in yields to as low as twenty-five and thirty
bushels per acre. Insects began to multiply in alarming num-
bers and attacked crops. The land also became "corn sick"
and in times of drouth, corn fired from lack of moisture.
More progressive farmers began to see that the growing
of corn year after year on the same land was a losing game,
so short rotations of corn and oats were tried. These rota-
tions, while giving increased yields for a time, were soon
found to be lacking since the soil continued to grow less
58 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
productive. About thirty years ago clover began to find a
place in the Corn Belt rotation. The benefits resulting from
growing this legume were very marked, especially when it
was grown for the first time. At the present time nine-tenths
of the corn land is so deficient in nitrogen and humus, that
a rotation containing at least one leguminous crop is not only
profitable but necessary.
Today a rotation of crops will be found on all the farms
of the Corn Belt. To be sure, this rotation varies from an
intelligent, scientific changing about of farm crops, in which
the requirements of the soil are always kept in mind, to the
haphazard rotations which still prevail on many of the Corn
We are learning facts about our soil today that the eastern
states learned to their regret twenty and thirty years ago
and even longer, that it is an expensive and tedious process
to restore fertility to land after it has been exhausted by the
continuous growing of corn year after year. Twenty years
hence the wheat belt farmers of the northwest will be con-
fronted with the serious task of restoring worn-out wheat
lands. It seems that the older fields of a community must
first become so deficient in plant food that it no longer pays
to grow the money crop of the country before that com-
munity will adopt a rotation of crops that will in any way
build up the land. The farmers of this country have been
slow to adopt good rotations. They have waited until they
were driven to it by necessity. We are, however, optimistic.
We feel sure that through intelligent management thousands
of farms in Illinois are more fertile today than they were
five years ago. On the other hand tens of thousands are
becoming less fertile. We believe, though, the time is not
far off when the turning point will be reached in Illinois
and that farms will gradually become more productive in-
stead of becoming less productive, as they are today.
THE ROTATION OF FARM CROPS 59
Higher prices for farm crops have made the building up
of worn-out farms very profitable. Better still, higher prices,
by increasing the farmer's surplus, are making this restora-
tion possible as well as advantageous for the average farmer.
If a farmer realizes that he is farming his land to its ultimate
ruin he is still unable to make much of an advance along the
line of soil conservation if he has only enough each year
upon which to live.
The city man who is complaining about the high cost of
foodstuffs should be made to realize that high prices today
are giving the farmer an incentive to do better farming and
are giving him a working capital with which to build up
and improve his farm. The present good prices that the
farmer is receiving will do more than anything else toward
postponing the day when we may have a serious food shortage.
Getting back to rotation; most farmers agree that con-
tinuous corn culture has no place in progressive farming.
As a temporary practice on rich virgin soils it may be all
right, perhaps for a few years while the farm is being paid
for and some of the comforts are being accumulated about
the house; but it a short-sighted policy for any other pur-
pose and is a certain money loser on lands which have been
long under cultivation.
ROTATION KILLS WEEDS
Practiced in an intelligent and systematic manner, crop
rotation will serve other purposes than the mere up-building
of the soil. Chief among these is the possibility of destroying
many troublesome weeds, or at least, of reducing presence
to the point where they are of little consequence.
Most weeds thrive better with some certain kind of crop.
When land is devoted to one crop continuously for a number
60 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
of years in succession, the kind of weed, or weeds, that thrive
best with that particular crop are given an excellent oppor-
tunity to propagate.
There is no better way to check the growth of weeds than
to keep the ground occupied constantly with growing farm
crops. All observing readers have noticed that bare spots in
a field become covered with weeds of some kind.
Many kinds of weeds are kept in check, or are entirely
destroyed, by growing some crop like corn which requires
open cultivation. On the other hand, many weeds that thrive
in open cultivation will be smothered out if the field is put in
grass or some small grain. Most rotations make it possible to
have a growing crop on the land all the time.
Five years ago we rented eighty acres adjoining one of
our farms. Since the farm was not cross fenced and the
previous tenants desired to pasture their stalk fields they had
not sown any part of it in wheat because the stock in running
over it would ruin it. The rotation for over ten years on
this farm had been corn three years and oats one year, to
the exclusion of all other crops. This, together with care-
less farming, had caused the fields to become badly infested
with cockleburs. These weeds were so thick that they were
a continual annoyance to the men and teams while putting
in the first crop. We put the whole farm in oats the first
year, then in wheat two years straight. The result was that
the cockleburs were completely destroyed. In addition to
this, the milkweeds, which had gotten a bad start, were also
destroyed. While we have only had this farm five years it
has been changed by crop rotation and clean culture from one
of the foulest to one of the cleanest farms in the county. If
we were to follow this system again we would substitute soy
beans for most of the oats. One year with another, this is
THE ROTATION OF FARM CROPS 61
as good a money crop as oats and has a big advantage over
oats since it is building up the land instead of running it
ROTATION IMPROVES THE PHYSICAL CONDITION OF THE SOIL
AND INCREASES ITS FERTILITY
The roots of the different crops are of great aid in pul-
verizing (and fining) the soil. When deep rooted legumes are
grown in rotation they utilize and bring to the surface plant
food which lies beyond the reach of the short rooted cereals.
When the roots of these legumes decay this nitrogenous plant
food is left in the surface soil to be used by the succeeding
While there is a slight improvement in the physical con-
dition of the soil when different grain crops alone are rotated,
the greatest benefits of rotations are derived from the legumes
included. For this reason at least one leguminous crop
should be included in every crop rotation.
The increase in the fertility of the soil as a result of crop
rotations is due entirely to the additional nitrogen stored in
the soil by the legume. If the leguminous crop is taken off
the land each time it is grown it is doubtful if any nitrogen
is added. When soy beans and cowpeas are grown and the
hay is taken off and no manure is returned it is believed that
nitrogen is actually taken from the soil rather than added.
If soy beans and cowpeas are grown for the seed, the straw
should be returned to the land after the seed has been
threshed out. Since a good supply of nitrogen is essential
for the profitable growing of grain crops, and the only cheap
way to get this nitrogen is by growing legumes, every effort
should be made to leave as much of the crop on the land
as is possible.
We wish to say, right here, that crop rotation alone will
62 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
not permanently maintain the fertility of the soil. All
crops require more or less phosphorus and potash as a part
of their plant food. Each year a drain is made on the supply
of phosphorus and potash. When these elements of plant
food are taken from the soil they must be returned in the
form of stable manure, commercial fertilizer or rock phos-
phate. No plant can put phosphorus and potash in the soil;
instead, they all take it out.
For nearly fifteen years we have followed with slight
variation a rotation consisting of corn two years, then oats,
wheat and clover successively. This is the popular rotation
in Central Illinois and is followed to a greater or lesser
extent on nine-tenths of the farms in this latitude.
Since oats are a heavy drain on the land and often an
unprofitable crop, we have, for the last two years, substituted
soy beans largely for oats. Each year we sow about 100
acres to soy beans. Before adopting soy beans this ground
was sown to oats. By following this method we are including
two leguminous crops in the rotation instead of one.
The soy bean is a wonderful crop for improving the phys-
ical condition of the soil. An ideal seed bed for winter
wheat can be made on soy bean fields with very little work.
Remember to return the straw to the land if you wish to
increase the nitrogen content of the soil. (More will be said
of soy beans in the next chapter.)
Alfalfa is one of the most profitable of the legume crops
but it is not a good crop to work in a rotation. This is due
to the fact that it is difficult and expensive to secure a good
stand and when once secured it is profitable to leave the
ground in alfalfa from three to five years. A good stand
of alfalfa will generally grow better each year for the first
three years. Alfalfa will grow on most of the well drained
soils of the Corn Belt. It will grow on thin land but it will
do much better on strong land. That alfalfa will build up
THE ROTATION OF FARM CROPS 63
the land is shown by the fact that eighty bushels of corn
have been grown on alfalfa sod when fifty bushels could not
be grown on this land before it had been put in alfalfa.
(We tell of our own experience in growing alfalfa in the
ROTATION KILLS INSECTS AND CHECKS PLANT DISEASES
Rotation not only gives opportunity to improve the phys-
ical condition and increase the fertility of the soil, but it
may also be made to head off many kinds of insect enemies
and plant diseases. If one kind of crop is grown year after
year on the same field, its insect enemies are likely to multi-
ply rapidly since they are continually supplied with the par-
ticular kind of food upon which they thrive best. Because of
the fact that changing cuts off this food supply for a time,
intelligent crop rotation has been found ;more effective than
all other methods combined in the economical checking of
insect and fungous pests. (In the chapter entitled "Dis-
eases and Insects" we are telling in detail how crop rotation
is effectively checking the corn root worm.)
Crop rotation is as effective in checking many of the
smuts, rust, and blights as it is in checking the insect pests.
Since the annual damages to the crops from insects alone
amounts to several millions in each state, too much stress can-
not be laid on any method that will check them. Even if
crop rotation were not essential to the maintenance of soil
fertility it would be necessary to rotate to keep in check
the insect pests.
ROTATION DISTRIBUTES FARM WORK
Another very important reason for practicing crop rota-
tion is that it distributes farm labor evenly over a long period
of time. When a rotation such as corn, oats, wheat and clover
is followed, there will be field work to be done that will
require the greater part of the year. Fall plowing for wheat
is done during a slack season and with horses and imple-
ments that would otherwise be idle if winter wheat was not
going to be raised. Two crops are raised with the same farm
equipment that would be required to raise either one. This
means economy of production. If one farmer can work his
teams for only three months in the year while his neighbor,
who follows diversified farming, can work his nine months to
advantage, then the first farmer's teams cost him three times
as much per day as do the teams belonging to his neighbor.
The greatest advantage to be gained by extending farm
operations over as long season as possible is due to the fact
that labor can be economically employed by the year. Labor
which can be employed by the year not only costs less per
day but it is of superior quality to labor which is employed
by the day or week. Men employed steadily take more inter-
est in their work and are better men. Our own experience
has taught us that the most dependable farm hands are mar-
ried men. For this reason we employ married farm help by
the year and furnish them with comfortable houses in which
to live. While the first cost of the married man is greater
than single help with board furnished, the married man will
prove to be cheaper in the end and certainly much more
reliable. We plan our crop rotations partly with a view to
giving employment throughout the year.
ROTATION LESSENS THE DANGER OF CROP Loss
While corn is the most certain money crop grown in the
Corn Belt, its yield is easily cut down one-half by weather
conditions when wheat, oats or legumes might be hurt little
if any. Crop rotation and diversified farming make for more
THE ROTATION OF FARM CROPS 65
uniform and more certain yearly returns. When corn alone
is grown, the farmer depends entirely on the yield and price
of his corn for his profit. On land that can grow several
crops profitably it is poor business to depend entirely on
one crop for a profit and a living.
ROTATION FURNISHES A BALANCED RATION
FOR LIVE STOCK
It is necessary to grow several crops in order to have a
balanced ration for live stock. Rotation of grain with legu-
minous crops gives this balanced ration. Corn is very rich
in starch. When it is grown extensively there is a tendency
to feed a ration deficient in protein. Since there is a large
amount of protein in all the legumes, the ration can be bal-
anced by growing and feeding clover, alfalfa, soy beans,
etc. The first one hundred pounds of weight of spring pigs
can be produced very cheaply if they have access to good
clover or alfalfa pasture. Our principal profit in growing
hogs is due to the fact that they are raised on clover and
soy bean pasture.
WHAT is THE BEST CROP ROTATION?
This is the question that each farmer will have to solve
for himself. Crop rotations should depend upon the size of
the farm, the nature of the soil, the market demand for the
different crops and the abundance or scarcity of labor.
Again, a rotation that is good for one season may not
be the best for another; but notwithstanding all this, every
crop rotation should include at least one leguminous crop.
A good five-year rotation, and one that will build up the
land is, corn two years, soy beans one year (or cowpeas),
66 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
wheat one year and clover one year. As we have said be-
fore, the straw should be returned to the land if the beans are
hulled. The clover is often worth more for pasture than it
would be if allowed to rot down as a humus and fertilizer.
If the clover seed is hulled the straw should of course be
returned to the land. If the clover fields are not needed
for pasture it is a good plan to cut the first crop early and let
it lay to enrich the land. This early cutting of the first crop
will often double the yield of seed in the second crop.
Humus may be defined as decaying vegetable matter. It
varies in composition and quantity in different soils. The
productive capacity of land is measured largely by its phys-
ical conditions and the physical condition depends largely
upon the amount of humus and nitrogen in the soil. When
old land is packed and breaks up cloddy it is often due to the
fact that the humus has been exhausted. While the grain
crops are dependent on several elements it is usually the
supply of nitrogen which limits the crop production. All
the nitrogen used in the growing of corn crops is taken from
the humus in the soil, while the legumes get a certain amount
from the air.
Since the grain crops are dependent on humus, it can
readily be seen that every effort should be made to restore
as much humus to the soil as is taken out by the crops and
the rapid decay which results from open culture. Vegetable
or animal trash of any kind will make humus, although some
kinds, like clover hay, and stable manure will make a great
deal more than will straw, corn stalks or leaves.
The drouth-resisting qualities of a soil depend largely
upon the amount of humus in it.
THE ROTATION OF FARM CROPS 67
'Decline in Kansas Acre Yields." By L. E. Call. The
Orange Judd Farmer. Jan. 25, 1913.
'Soils and Fertilizers" (a book). By Harry Snyder.
'Crop Rotations for Illinois Soils." By Cyril G. Hopkins.
Circular No. 141 111. Agri. Ex. Sta.
'Thirty Years of Crop Rotations." By Cyril G. Hopkins.
Bulletin No. 125 111. Agri. Ex. Sta.
'Married Men Cheaper than Single Help." By Ralph M.
Ainsworth. Prairie Farmer. March 1, 1913.
'The Fertility of the Land." By Isaac Phillips Roberts.
Nitrogen is no more essential to the growth of corn than
certain other elements but it is the one required in the largest
amount and is the most easily lost from the soil. Throughout
the Corn Belt it is more often the lack of nitrogen than of
any other element which limits crop production. "When this
supply of nitrogen is low it must be restored before paying
grain crops can be grown on the land.
The object in growing leguminous crops is to restore
economically the nitrogen which has been used up by the
preceding grain crops. Many so-called worn out soils are
worn out only in the sense that the humus (decaying vege-
table matter) in them has been used up by the grain crops
and clean culture which they received. "When this nitrogen
and humus has been restored by the growing of several legu-
minous crops, many farms are made as productive as they
were when first broken up.
Leguminous crops such as clover, soy beans, cowpeas,
vetches, alfalfa, sweet clover, etc., have the power of taking
pure nitrogen from the air and storing it in the roots through
the nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the root nodules. At the same
time it must be remembered that ' all the nitrogen in the
legumes is not stored in the roots but that a considerable part
is distributed through the stem and leaves. If, then, hay is
removed, all the nitrogen in the stems and leaves is also
removed. By removing all the soy bean or cowpea hay it is
believed that nitrogen is actually taken from the soil rather
than added. It naturally follows that if the nitrogen con-
LEGUMINOUS CROPS 69
tent of the soil is to be rapidly increased, it is necessary
that the nitrogen in the stem and leaves should be returned
by plowing under the crop or, at least, by returning the
straw to the land after the seed has been removed.
The legumes we have used in restoring and maintaining
a sufficient supply of nitrogen and humus in the soils of our
own farms have been clover, soy beans, cowpeas and alfalfa.
We have not used vetches or sweet clover but we intend to
sow eighty acres of the latter. Our reasons for giving sweet
clover a trial will be mentioned under "The Culture of
Clover is the mainstay legume used in restoring nitrogen
and humus to over-cropped farms of the Corn Belt. It is
well adapted to the black prairie soils of the Corn Belt. It
not only adds one more year to the rotation, thus resting
the land from corn that much longer, but it actually enriches
the soil by adding nitrogen. What is just as important, it
makes available large amounts of phosphorus and potash in
the soil by the decay of its roots. (The supply of phos-
phorus and potash in the soil is not increased by growing
legumes, but that which is already there is rendered more
available by the acidity of the clover.)
In field tests extending over twenty-nine years on the
black corn land of central Illinois the experiment station
of this State found that at the end of that time corn grown
continually on the same land yielded twenty-seven bushels
per acre as an average for the last three years of the test.
Corn grown in rotation with oats yielded forty-six bushels
per acre, while corn grown in rotation with oats and clover
yielded fifty-eight bushels per acre without the aid of either
fertilizer or manure. (See Bulletin 125, Illinois Agricul-
70 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
tural Experiment Station.) These results have been verified
on thousands of farms throughout the Corn Belt.
There are three common kinds of clover of general impor-
tance to the farmer. They are, in the order of their im-
portance: the common red or June clover, mammoth or
sapling clqver, and the Swedish or Alsike. The common red
is the most extensively grown of these varieties. It will do
well on most of the common prairie soils of the Corn Belt.
It differs from the other two varieties in that it gives two
crops in one season, either two crops of hay or a crop of
hay and a crop of seed.
Alsike will do well on any soil that common red clover
will thrive on and in addition it will grow on soils that are
too wet for the common.
Mammoth clover is distinctly the clover for sandy and
other poor soils. It will get along on soils too thin and too
dry for either medium or Alsike to thrive on at all. This
is the best clover for soiling purposes. If a soil is very sour
and lacking in lime, it will not grow the clovers or other
legumes until these conditions have been remedied. Two
thousand pounds of limestone applied about once in every
four years will correct the acidity in most soils and make it,
not only possible, but easy to grow clovers and other legumes.
The application of limestone to the soils of Southern Illinois
has made possible the growing of clover on thousands of acres
that were too acid before the application of lime was made.
Clover has been grown successfully for years in central and
northern Illinois without the application of limestone, al-
though the soil would doubtless be benefited and the clover
crop helped by its application.
We always sow clover in a nurse crop of wheat or oats.
This is not only the profitable method, but it is best to have
LEGUMINOUS CROPS 71
the nurse crop in order to keep down the weeds until the
clover can get a start. "We prefer to seed about four quarts
of good seed per acre on winter wheat early in March and
let the frost work the seed into the ground, or to sow later
when the ground can be harrowed, and harrow the wheat
immediately after sowing the clover seed. This harrowing
will cover the seed and if the ground is not too wet it will
benefit the wheat.
If it is desirable to seed the clover with oats, the clover
may be seeded at the same time the oats are drilled. When
both are sown in one drill it is necessary to have a separate
attachment made purposely for seeding the clover. It will
not do to mix the clover with the oats since the clover will
be covered too deep. Besides, clover seed, being heavy, will
shake to the bottom and will not be seeded evenly. In gen-
eral the sooner the nurse crop is gotten off the clover the
better it will be for it.
Other things being equal, we prefer seeding clover with
wheat rather than oats since the oats often grow so rank as
to shade the clover and kill it.
Clover, to grow well, must have plenty of air, moisture,
and warmth. The first two seem to be more important than
the last, although young clover is often killed if a warm early
spring is followed by severe freezing weather.
Unless clover has made a rank growth the first fall, it
is not a good plan to pasture or cut it the first year. Gen-
erally speaking, the fall growth after the nurse crop is taken
off should be allowed to rot down and protect the roots
through the winter.
Soy beans are one of the most profitable crops that can
be grown on the farm. This crop has gained rapidly in pop-
ularity during the last five years. It is almost as efficient a
soil builder as clover and is a splendid crop for hay. The
seed sells for two and three dollars per bushel and the yield
is from eight to twenty bushels per acre. On our own farms
we are growing soy beans on -the ground that formerly went
As stated in the chapter on rotation, soy beans will, one
year with another, grow as big a money crop as oats besides
building up the land instead of running it down. During the
HARVESTING SOY BEANS
last two years, we have grown one hundred and twenty acres
of soy beans and just enough oats to feed our horses. The
seed was threshed by the ordinary grain separator although
a regular pea or bean huller would be more satisfactory.
Our yields have averaged about ten bushels per acre and the
surplus seed sold at $2.50 and $3.00 per bushel.
When the grain separator is used the concave teeth should
all be removed and the speed of the machine reduced to about
one-half of that ordinarily used in threshing grain. The tail
LEGUMINOUS CROPS 73
of the machine should also be lowered to prevent choking.
Culture: Soy beans should be planted on the poorest land
on the farm. If it is possible to do so, it is well to break the
ground early and harrow it once, then leave it until after
the corn is all planted before working it in to a seed bed
and planting the beans. It is not hard to get a good stand
if the seed is good and the seed bed is moist and warm.
These last two conditions are absolutely essential.
The soy bean is just as susceptible to frost as garden
beans. Cold ground will rot the seed and a frost will kill
the plant after it is up. From the first to the middle of
June is a good time to sow the beans in central Illinois.
The soy bean can stand considerable dry weather after the
plant has attained the height of four or more inches. The
seed should never be planted in dry ground, since it will
swell and rot unless the drilling is followed by an early rain.
It is better to wait until the rain comes before beginning to
The se'ed bed should be prepared as for corn and all
weeds killed immediately before sowing. "We prefer to drill
the beans and use an ordinary grain drill. We sow about
one and one-half bushels and use all the holes in the drill.
If we get a good stand and have favorable weather the field
will be free from weeds, since the rank growth will smother
them out. Good results have been secured by planting less
than half the above amount of seed per acre. "We drill thick
in order to smother out the weeds. We have never tried
drilling in wider rows and cultivating since our time at this
season of the year is needed in the cornfields. With a good
seed bed, the seed should be planted about three inches deep.
We have grown mostly the "Medium Yellow" but this
last year we have tried the "Black Ebony" or "Medium
Black" as it is sometimes called. For some reason or other
the nitrogen-gathering nodules on the roots are larger than
74 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
on the "Medium Yellow." The "Black Ebony" grows more
rank and is about two weeks later than the "Medium
Inoculation: Like other legumes, soy beans utilize the
nitrogen in the air and add it to the soil by means of root
nodules. These nodules are caused by certain bacteria. Un-
less they are present, soy beans in most soils will make but
a weak growth; many will turn yellow and some may even
die. These bacteria are present in most soils of the South
but in the Corn Belt proper, the bacteria are not well distrib-
uted, which makes it advisable to inoculate.
Inoculation of a new field may be secured either by trans-
ferring the soil from a well inoculated soy bean field or by
using some of the pure cultures advertised. (We obtained
our first inoculated soil from the Illinois Experiment Sta-
tion at Urbana. The station sells soil at fifty cents per hun-
dred pounds and one hundred pounds is enough for twenty
acres if the glue process is used.)
We find the glue process the most economical as well as
the most effective. The method consists of sticking parti-
cles of the inoculated soil to the beans by wetting the beans
in glue water. The glue water is made by dissolving about
three pounds of glue in ten gallons of water. This is enough
water to wet fifty bushels of beans. (It is a good plan to
add about a gallon of flour paste as this gives the glue water
a little body.) A layer of beans about four inches deep is
thoroughly wet with the glue water and the inoculated soil
is sprinkled over them. The beans are then shoveled about
until particles of soil are sticking to all the beans. Then
another layer is treated in a like manner. The beans should
be shoveled over about every half hour until they are dry.
They will be dry enough to prevent heating in two to four
hours. Do not try to drill until the beans are dry and don't
LEGUMINOUS CROPS 75
expose the beans to the direct rays of the sun after the soil
is added. Sunlight will kill the bacteria in the soil.
Cowpeas and vetches are the main leguminous crops for
poor soils. Cowpeas have the power to extract plant food
from land that is too poor for the profitable growing of such
crops as clover, alfalfa or even soy beans. They will grow
without inoculation on new land which is something that
most legumes will not do. The bacteria of this legume seem
to be present in nearly all soils. While cowpeas will grow
on most soils they are better adapted to sandy types than to
heavier black soils. In other words, the cowpea will do for
light sandy soils what the soy bean does for heavier soils.
For this reason we have grown soy beans in preference to
cowpeas on our own lands, which are a black retentive loam.
The western part of Mason County is quite sandy. On this
soil cowpeas grow to perfection and find a place in the crop
rotation of all the well regulated .farms.
Cowpeas are largely grown in the Cotton States of the
South. It is safe to say that no one plant can add more to
the agricultural wealth of the South than the more exten-
sive growing of cowpeas. A common practice in the South
is to grow cowpeas between the rows of corn, thereby enrich-
ing the land and doubling the value of the stalk fields for
Culture: The seed bed for cowpeas should be prepared
in the same manner as for soy beans. While the seed and
young plant is more hardy than those of soy beans, good
preparation will pay big returns. Cowpeas should be sown
late in the North, after all danger of frost is over. It is
best to double disc well just before sowing in order to kill
76 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
If cowpeas are cut for hay, the hay should be left in the
cock for a week, and longer if the weather is not very dry.
A good plan is to let the hay stay in the windrow a day,
before it is put in the cock. Cowpea and soy bean hay dries
very slowly, because of the thick stem. For this reason it
is unsatisfactory to take the hay direct from the windrow
to the mow or stack. The growing of cowpeas or soy beans
on land is a good preparation for the growing of alfalfa.
Vetch has a very important place in the building up and
renovating of the depleted soils of the East and Southeast.
It often paves the way for successful alfalfa growing on soils
that are too poor to grow alfalfa at the start. Vetch is not
much grown on the black prairie soils of the Corn Belt. It
is our opinion that other legumes are more effective than this
annual in maintaining the productivity of prairie soils.
Culture: Vetch may be sown either broadcast or by drill-
ing. Drilling is the more modern method. It may be sown
alone or with one of the small grains as a supporting crop.
In the Southern states a winter vetch is sown in the fall,
either in September or October. Hairy vetch is the favorite
in the North. In the spring it may be sown as early as the
ground can be gotten in shape. The seed is sown at the
rate of one bushel per acre. It is necessary to inoculate some
soils in order to grow vetch successfully.
Alfalfa is fast becoming a popular crop in the Corn Belt.
Its splendid hay qualities are rapidly pushing it into public
favor. We took a great deal of pains to put in eight acres
of alfalfa and later results showed that it deserved all the
attention it received. From this eight acre field we cut three
crops of hay the following year. The three crops yielded
better than five tons per acre.
The hay is of the finest quality and will usually sell for
eighteen dollars per ton, or ninety dollars per acre; but it
is not for sale at this price. We feed it to our own stock.
After obtaining these results on eight acres we felt justified
in sowing twenty acres more the following fall. (The two
following photographs were taken in this eight-acre field the
summer after the crop was* put in.) This was our first
attempt at growing alfalfa. We were careful in the prepa-
ALFALFA HAY IN THE COCK. THE COCKS
ABE COVEKED WITH CANVAS CAPS
ration of the seed bed and followed instructions in regard
to seeding and inoculation.
We want to say right here, however, that if alfalfa is
grown at all it should be grown as a money crop. If it will
not average two tons of good hay per acre it is better, in
our opinion, to grow some other crop. Alfalfa is an expen-
sive crop to put in, when it is put in right and one cannot
afford to put it in any other way.
The ground on which alfalfa is grown should lay fallow
and should be worked at frequent intervals the first summer.
This means no returns the first year. Again, alfalfa can
not be made a paying crop on poor, unproductive soils. Al-
falfa ground must be sweet and in good physical condition
if the returns from the crop are to justify the necessary
expense. Most of the black prairie soils of the Corn Belt
can be made good alfalfa land by the application of lime-
stone to the soil.
Alfalfa should be made a money crop rather than used
BALING ALFALFA HAY ON CLOVEEDALE FARM
This field made over five tons of hay per acre, the year after
it was sown
as a soil-building legume. If alfalfa is grown it is grown
for the hay and large quantities of phosphorus and potas-
sium are removed from the soil in the hay. On the other
hand some nitrogen is stored in the roots and the physical
condition of the soil is undoubtedly improved. In actual
practice, then, alfalfa improves good land but cannot be
considered in connection with poor land, as it is not a
profitable crop to grow on unfertile soils.
LEGUMINOUS CROPS 79
Soils: An ideal alfalfa soil is a deep rich sandy or clay
loam. Alfalfa will not thrive in a sour soil. Alfalfa bacteria
can not live in an acid soil and these bacteria are absolutely
necessary to the successful growing of the crop. The appli-
cation of two thousand pounds of limestone will "sweeten"
acid soils for the growing of alfalfa and all farm crops. If
the soil is only slightly acid, less lime will be necessary. "We
have not found it necessary to use limestone on our soils.
If the land is very flat, it should be well drained before
seeding to alfalfa. Superfluous water will drown out alfalfa.
The soil must be full of air spaces and if these are filled
with water the alfalfa will smother and turn yellow.
Inoculation: Alfalfa bacteria are seldom found in the
soil east of the Mississippi. These bacteria must be arti-
ficially supplied before alfalfa can be profitably grown. Since
sweet clover bacteria and alfalfa bacteria are identical, soil
from the roadside, where sweet clover is growing, will serve
to inoculate the alfalfa field. "We use a manure spreader to
scatter inoculated soil, although it can be done very well by
hand. If sweet clover soil is not available, "pure alfalfa
culture" can be obtained from reliable seedmen. This alfalfa
culture is satisfactory though rather expensive.
Preparation of Seed Bed: As before stated, the ground
should be plowed deep, preferably in June. The ground
should then be disced or harrowed every week or two, (in
order to kill all weeds), until about the first or middle of
August, when it should be worked repeatedly until a very
fine mellow seed bed is secured. The field should then be
inoculated as suggested above and clean seed, free from weed
and other seeds, should be sown at the rate of fifteen pounds
to the acre.
The seed bed must be moist from the very top surface
down. We sow broadcast with a horn seeder and sow both
ways to insure an even distribution. The seed should be
80 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
covered to a depth of one-half to one inch by a light
We have never sown alfalfa seed with a nurse crop and
are inclined to believe the results would be unsatisfactory.
If the seed was sown in the spring it would, of course, be
necessary to use a nurse crop of some kind to keep down
weeds until the alfalfa could get a start; but spring sowing
of alfalfa has not been so successful as fall sowing in
Illinois and Iowa.
Alfalfa should be cut when from one-third to one-half
the blooms are out, or just after the new shoots have come
out at the base. It should never be cut until after the new
shoots have started. To cut before means a very weak suc-
ceeding crop. If there is a considerable growth in the fall
it should be either pastured or clipped before winter comes
on. A light application of manure (with a manure spreader),
in December will prevent alfalfa from being winter killed.
Remember alfalfa, like corn, is a good money crop if it is
properly put in on good fertile soil. Unlike clover, beans
and peas, it is not a rotation crop. If a good stand of alfalfa
is secured it will pay to leave it for four or five years.
Sweet clover is a deep rooted legume, and is found grow-
ing along the roadsides everywhere. No other legume has
such a wide range of territory, nor will any other legume
grow in as many types of soil or under such varied condi-
tions. Because of its hardy nature and wonderful adapta-
bility it is considered by most farmers as a weed. It has been
only in the last two years that farmers have taken kindly
to sweet clover. The majority are still skeptical. Many
admit that it is a good nitrogen gatherer but are afraid to
give it a place on their farms for fear it will, as they say,
"take the farm."
LEGUMINOUS CROPS 81
It has been proved, to our own satisfaction at least, that
sweet clover will never be a troublesome weed on our farms.
Stock will not allow it to start in the pasture and it is as
easily killed as clover in a cultivated field.
"We are so impressed with the merits of sweet clover that
we shall seed eighty acres to this legume in the spring. The
seed will be sown with a nurse crop, either wheat or oats.
Sweet clover, unlike alfalfa, grows so rank and hardy
from the start that it can be sown in the spring without a
nurse crop and still keep ahead of the weeds. By sowing
sweet clover in the spring with a nurse crop of wheat or oats,
however, the land will bring returns the first year, which
is not the case with fall sowing of alfalfa.
Judge Quarten in an article entitled "Sweet Clover" by
Alson Secor says: "I seed with Early Champion oats, using
a bushel or a bushel and a half, to eighteen or twenty pounds
of sweet clover seed. Cut the clover the latter part of Sep-
tember in northern Iowa. If I use barley, one bushel is
enough. ' '
"Don't you ever seed it alone?"
"Haven't worked that out yet. I believe it would pay to
throw some seed in the cornfield at last cultivation. Will
try that. But I prefer to use a nurse crop to keep down
weeds. ' '
We believe that sweet clover will, in the future, become
the greatest legume crop for the building up of worn out
farms. It is the best crop to pave the way for the growing
"Letters to the Clover Sick Family." By Uncle Henry.
Wallace's Farmer. Feb. 21, 1913.
"Soy Beans a Valuable Crop for the Corn Belt." By C. H.
Oathout. Prairie Farmer. March 15, 1913.
82 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
"Soy Beans." By Piper and Nielson. U. S. Farmers' Bul-
letin, No. 372.
"The Culture of Soy Beans." By Leonard Hegnauer. Il-
linois State Register, June 30, 1913.
"Cowpeas. " By Griffith. Fruit Grower and Farmer. May,
"The Vetch Book." By William C. Smith.
"Vetches." By Piper and McKee. U. S. Farmers' Bulle-
tin, No. 515.
"A Great Alfalfa Campaign." The Breeders' Gazette. May
"Alfalfa." By Peter C. Swartz. Farmers' Review. Feb.
"Seeding Alfalfa." By Rupert L. Stewart. Weekly Star.
Jan. 21, 1913.
"Alfalfa on Illinois Soil." By Cyril G. Hopkins. Bulletin
No. 26, 111. Agri. Ex. Sta.
"Sweet Clover." By Alson Secor. Successful Farming,
STABLE AND BARNYARD MANURE
Stable manures are the oldest, as well as the most
common, materials used for enriching the land. On practic-
ally all of the farms in the United States a greater or less
amount of the manure produced on the farm is returned
to the land. However, the amount returned compared with
the amount produced varies greatly on different farms.
On farms where the true value of stable manure is fully
appreciated it will generally be found carefully preserved in
covered manure pens from which it is frequently applied
to the fields by means of manure spreaders. On other farms
where slip-shod and bonanza methods are still the rule it is
usual to see steaming piles of uncovered manure waiting for
months until its value is half gone (through leaching), be-
fore being finally hauled out and .applied to the land. As
the farm lands of this country are becoming more depleted,
stable manures are being made better use of and the number
of farmers who deliberately allow manure to rot with no
intention of ever applying it to the land are fortunately
becoming very few.
When farm land becomes so worn that it is necessary to
apply commercial fertilizers in order to grow paying crops,
every farmer is seriously made to realize the true value of
stable and barnyard manure. It is a well known fact that on
thin Eastern farms, where the applications of commercial
fertilizers are a yearly occurrence, stable manure is well
cared for and but little is lost or wasted. Stable manure
that is produced on the farm can be applied to the land
at less than a tenth of the total cost of purchasing, hauling
and applying commercial fertilizers of equal fertilizing value.
We consider stable manure second in value only to legumin-
ous crops for maintaining and increasing the productivity of
the farms of the United States.
Stable manure that can be applied to the land is, in our
opinion, worth more to the Corn Belt farmer than the profit
gained by the application of any of the commercial fertilizers.
We have used raw bone meal to some slight advantage and
the application of several car-loads of rock phosphate has
increased the yield and improved the quality of our farm
crops sufficiently to justify the expenditure. Notwithstanding
this, we have made a thousand dollars by the profitable pur-
chase of stable manure where we have made one hundred
dollars by using mineral fertilizers.
VALUE OP STABLE MANURE
Stable and barnyard manures are without doubt the most
variable in chemical composition of any of the manures and
fertilizers used for enriching the land. A ton of pure
excrement from mature stock fed largely on nitrogenous
feeds, such as clover and alfalfa, might easily be worth as
much as five tons of coarse, strawy manure from poorly fed
stock. For this reason it is impossible to determine the
value of a ton of manure until after it has been analyzed.
Besides adding humus and thus improving the physical
condition of the soil, stable manure contains, to a greater
or less extent, such plant foods as nitrogen, phosphate and
potassium. These elements are essential to all plant growth
and are deficient in most soils of the Corn Belt. A ton of
good stable manure contains about ten pounds of nitrogen,
five pounds of phosphoric acid and ten pounds of potash.
If these elements were to be obtained from the commercial
fertilizers on the very best terms they would cost $2.65 per
STABLE AND BARNYARD MANURE
ton. This is on the basis of nitrogen at eighteen cents a
pound, phosphoric acid at four cents a pound and potash at
four and one-half cents a pound.
While these elements are not as available for plant food
in stable manures as in some commercial fertilizers, we be-
lieve this is more than made up by the value of the addi-
tional organic matter present.
On the basis of plant food elements contained, good stable
manure is worth $2.65 per ton after it is applied to the land.
(Courtesy Rock Island Plow Co.)
MANUEE SPEEADER IN OPEEATION
The lowest figures we have at hand value stable manure at
$1.80 per ton, while the Ohio Experiment Station claims that
crops are increased from $3.00 to $4.00 for each ton applied.
When used as a top dressing on clover fields, we value manure
at $3.00 per ton, at least.
MANURE PROM STOCKYARDS AND CITY STABLES
Manure is worth a great deal more after it is applied
to the land than before it is hauled from the city stables or
railway station. Where manure is purchased in nearby towns
86 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
and hauled to the farm it should be bought at prices low
enough to enable the farmer to make good wages for his
trouble in hauling, aside from its value in building up the
In most parts of the Corn Belt proper, manure from city
stock yards can be purchased for as low as $1.00 per ton,
freight prepaid to the farmer's nearest station. If the manure
is of fair quality and as many as four loads can be hauled
per man and team in one day we consider it a good purchase
with corn selling at sixty cents per bushel. "Where wood
shavings are used for bedding and the manure is of poor
quality, it is doubtful whether it would pay to handle it
at the above price.
The best and cheapest manure is usually that obtained in
the small towns of the Corn Belt. For several years past we
have hauled annually, from eight hundred to one thousand
tons of manure from the town of Mason City. We haul from
one to two tons at a load and give in exchange straw for
bedding. A considerable part of our land joins Mason City
on the south so that the hauls are short. One man with a
one hundred and twenty bushel spreader averages from six
to eight tons per day, depending on the roads and condition
of manure. "We fully realize that in getting manure at the
above prices we are taking advantage of an opportunity
that does not lie at every farmer's door. Mason City is
surrounded by a very fertile country and for this reason
the manure is not appreciated locally like it will be twenty
years hence. The town customers who supply us with this
manure seem to care less for the straw they receive for bed-
ding than the fact that we call regularly for the manure.
If any farmer wants a dependable supply of manure from
town stables it is necessary to be prepared to haul at all
seasons of the year when the roads will permit. No longer
than ten years ago it was necessary to inforce town ordi-
STABLE AND BARNYARD MANURE 87
nances in order to get stable litter removed from the alleys
of this town before it became a nuisance to public health.
When it comes to appreciating the value of stable manure,
the eastern farmer has shown himself more aggressive than
the Corn Belt farmer. In New England manure has had a
market value for several generations past. The fact that the
eastern farmer finds it necessary to manure his land while
some of the western farms are fertile enough to grow a crop
without manure is no excuse for the Corn Belt farmer. While
it is still possible for us to grow a crop without first apply-
ing manures or fertilizers it is also true that a ton of manure
applied to the black prairie land of Illinois will increase the
yield of corn, wheat and oats more bushels than would be
the case if the manure were applied to thin, hilly land. With
farm crops bringing the present good prices we can surely
afford to be as careful in saving and as painstaking in apply-
ing manures as can our eastern brothers. The New England
farmer has been driven by necessity to increase the fertility
of his soil. In fact, much of the secret of every eastern
farmer's success is to save all the manure and return it to
the soil. Many of us in the West are still living off the fat
of the land and some of us will continue to mine our soils
until the fertility is completely exhausted.
How SHOULD MANURE BE APPLIED?
Every Corn Belt farmer who is farming as much as one
hundred and sixty acres can afford to own a manure spreader.
The spreader distributes the manure more evenly and over
a larger area than is possible when applied by hand. We
believe that two tons applied with a spreader will go as far
as three tons applied in any other manner. If the farm
produces only one hundred tons of stable manure in a year
and it is made to go as far as one hundred and fifty tons
applied by hand, there has been a saving of fifty tons of
88 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
manure. If this is worth only $1.50 per load the spreader
has resulted in a saving of $75.00 per year on manure. In
addition to this there will be a saving of fully $25.00 in labor.
A spreader that is kept oiled when in use and shedded when
not should last from ten to fifteen years. The average life
of our own spreaders is from eight to ten years, but in
hauling manure from town they are subjected to harder
usage than would be the case if used only on the farm.
A good time to spread manure is on clover sod just before
planting corn, but a better time is to apply the manure to
the clover plants the fall before. This causes a decided in-
crease in the growth of the clover and if the last crop is
turned under the additional growth will be of greater benefit
to the succeeding corn crops than would be the case if the
manure was applied direct to the corn. Again, manure can
be spread on clover fields in wet weather when the team
and wagon would pack and injure plowed ground.
For several years we practiced the top dressing of wheat
after the ground became frozen, but now we are convinced
that manure is worth more when applied to clover or pasture
The greatest objection that we have to manure is that
it does not go far enough and this is the strongest reason for
carefully preserving and applying all that is produced on the
farm. It may be necessary, in time, for the Corn Belt farmer
to use commercial fertilizers, but the longer he can hold this
day off the better it will be for him.
By carefully returning to the soils all the manures, corn
stalks and other trash and in some cases applying rock
phosphate or limestone, the prairie farmer, with the help of
frequent leguminous crops, should be able to maintain the
productivity of his land indefinitely.
STABLE AND BARNYARD MANURE 89
'The Fertility of the Land." By Isaac Phillips Roberts.
'Making Best Use of Manure." 0. M. Hayes. The Ohio
Farmer. March 8, 1913.
: Handling Soil for Production." Twentieth Century Farmer.
March 15, 1913.
: Soils and Fertilizers." Harry Snyder, B. S.
PHOSPHORUS AND LIMESTONE
The three most important elements in the soil are nitrogen,
phosphorus and potassium. Of these three soil elements,
nitrogen is required in the largest amount. While nitrogen
is no more essential to the growth of corn than the other
two, it is the element most easily lost from the soil. As we
have stated under "Leguminous Crops," nitrogen can be
gathered from the air and stored in the soil by the growing
of such crops as clover, cowpeas and soy beans.
For this reason the growing of clover for the first time
on over-cropped corn land often makes the soil very produc-
tive for years to come because the supply of phosphorus and
potassium has not yet become lowered. But the supply of
phosphorus, like that of nitrogen, can become so low that
farm crops (especially clover) will not do well until enough
phosphorus has been replaced to bring the supply back to
On many soils in the Corn Belt the crop yield is limited
by the lack of phosphorus rather than by the lack of nitro-
gen. Now, the only way by which phosphorus can be added
to the soil is to buy it in some form or other and apply it to
the land. If the phosphorus content of the soil is actually
lower than the nitrogen content, there is no doubt but that
the application of phosphorus would be a profitable invest-
ment; but to apply phosphorus to soil that is already very
low in humus and nitrogen is nothing less than throwing
money away. If clover crops grow large and luxuriant on
a soil, it is safe to say that the soil is not greatly deficient
in phosphorus, although a 1,000 pound application might still
be a profitable investment. At any rate, it can never do
How TO BUY PHOSPHORUS
Phosphorus can be purchased in the form of bone meal,
acid cut rock phosphate, and raw rock phosphate. The results
of various experiments made at the Illinois Agricultural Ex-
periment Station at Urbana, prove conclusively that the most
economical method of increasing the phosphorus content of
the soil is by the application of finely ground rock phosphate
with stable manure, preferably spread on clover land.
A good grade of rock phosphate should contain from ten
to twelve per cent of phosphorus. Since the phosphorus is
the only part of the rock that is of value to the soil, it should
be purchased on the basis of the phosphorus it contains.
The phosphorus is chemically locked up in the rock and
requires the action of some acid to liberate it and make it
available for plant use. For this reason it is best to apply
it with manure on clover fields.
The acids in the manure and clover plant will set free
the phosphorus much more quickly than when applied to
some grain crop. The rock phosphate should be ground fine
enough so that at least 90 per cent of it will pass through
a one-hundred mesh screen. The finer it is ground the more
quickly it will be acted on by the acids in the soil.
A good time to apply rock phosphate is in the fall. If
as much as twelve tons are needed, it is well to purchase it
in bulk by the carload. By getting a minimum carload, it is
much cheaper than buying in bags. A good method of
92 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
spreading, one that we have followed, is to fill the manure
spreader about half full of manure, then spread on a layer
of phosphate an inch or two in depth, then fill up the spreader
with manure. It is very liable to blow away, and the manure
on top prevents this. "We have a drill that we have used to
some extent, made especially for applying phosphate, but
we prefer to apply with the manure spreader, provided we
have the manure.
The results of experiments, covering a period of five years,
on the King farm northeast of Springfield, show that phos-
phate treated plots yielded an average of seventeen and six-
tenths bushels more of corn per acre than untreated plots.
The increase in the yield of oats and wheat was also pro-
portionately greater. The Illinois Agricultural Experiment
Station at Urbana has obtained equally good results. On
the other hand, we want to be candid with our readers and
state that our own results with phosphate have not been so
favorable. We believe that one thousand pounds per acre
applied on forty acres will eventually pay for itself in in-
creased yields. In addition to increasing the yields some-
what, phosphorus has caused the corn to mature earlier and
has made it more sound than that grown on the untreated
fields. These last results, rather than the small increase in
yields, have convinced us that we have profited by the appli-
cation of phosphate. We expect to use more in the future.
The object of applying limestone is to neutralize the
acidity of the soil. Limestone is not a plant food. If soil
is acid, bacteria storing legumes will not thrive. Without
PHOSPHORUS AND LIMESTONE 93
these bacteria, it is impossible for clover, soy beans, cowpeas,
etc., to secure nitrogen from the air. If soil is very acid
(sour), legumes can not be grown until it has first been
sweetened by the application of limestone. Thousands of
acres of land in southern Illinois are now growing clover
where it was once thought such crops could not be grown.
In these cases, clover crops were made possible by the appli-
cation of limestone.
To determine the acidity of soil, place blue litmus paper
between two layers of soil to be tested. If the paper turns
red in a few minutes the soil may be considered acid and the
application of from one to three tons per acre would prob-
ably be a very profitable investment. Ground limestone costs
from one to three dollars per ton, delivered at most Illinois
points. This difference in price is due largely to the differ-
ence in freight charges. (The state penitentiary at Chester
is the source of a considerable supply of crushed limestone.)
Our soil is only very slightly acid. For this reason we
have never used any limestone on our own farms. However,
we intend to apply it to our alfalfa fields next year.
So far, we have said nothing about the plant food element,
potassium, for the reason that the common prairie soils con-
tain enough of this element to last for generations to come.
On the other hand, bottom lands, subject to overflow, already
show a shortage of potassium. Potassium is usually supplied
by applying muriate of potash. When muriate of potash is
applied to land that is not deficient in potassium it acts as
a crop stimulant rather than as a soil builder. Germany
is the principal source of potash.
94 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
"Phosphorus Results." By O. S. Fisher. Illinois State Reg-
ister. September 20, 1913.
"The Salvation of Our Soil." By B. E. Powell. Successful
Farming, February, 1913.
"Frank Mann's Soil Book." By Frank I. Mann. (Mr. Mann
is a practical farmer actively engaged in farming.)
"Results of Scientific Soil Treatment." By Mann and Hop-
kins. 111. Agri. Ex. Sta., Bulletin 149.
"The Fertility of the Land." By Isaac Phillips Roberts.
SELECTING THE BEST EARS FOR SEED
In selecting the best ears of corn, whether for display or
general field planting, the object should be to choose those
ears which will yield the greatest number of bushels of sound
corn per acre. Of course, if one is selecting a ten-ear sample
to display at some corn show or fair, one can afford to pay
more attention to the fancy points of each individual ear
than would be the case in selecting several bushels for general
planting. Remember that depth of kernel, vitality, and ma-
turity count for more in yield than do fancy tips and butts.
A sample containing a few ears having shallow kernels and
showing lack of maturity will never take a ribbon in a con-
test where there is much competition, no matter how near per-
fect the other qualities may be.
If seed corn is desired for a breeding or seed plot, it
is a good plan to select it from the field after the first or
second frost. In this way, the corn plant, as well as the ear,
can be studied; but do not be in too much of a hurry. The
natural place for corn to ripen is in the field and ears
selected before they are properly ripened will have a ten-
dency to become chaffy after they are dried. An ear that
has matured well in the field will show a strong germ and will
SELECTING BEST EARS FOR SEED
grow quickly in the spring providing the germ has not been
injured by hard freezing weather.
In selecting seed corn from the field, choose only those
ears showing the same degree of maturity. Select all early
or all medium ears, depending on your requirements. The
earliest maturing ears from a field will average smaller in
size than ears of medium maturity. We believe that most
of the corn grown in the corn belt matures too late to
produce the greatest number of bushels of sound corn. (All
elevators, at present, grade corn on the basis of the moisture
VAEIATION IN SIZE OF KEENELS
Since it is impossible to so adjust the planter as to drop these different sized
kernels with uniformity, all ears like the four on the left should be
discarded. Ear 1 js uniform, but the kernels are too small.
Ears 5 and 6 have uniform kernels of the proper size.
it contains.) On the other hand, the period of maturity
cannot be shortened to any great extent without reducing
the average weight of the ears. In view of these two facts,
we are firmly convinced that the best corn for general pur-
poses is that which will utilize practically the entire growing
season, and mature safely before it is damaged by freezing.
Maturity is determined by the dryness of the stalk leaves
and by the firmness of the ears and grain.
PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
Ears should be taken only from those plants that are
grown under normal conditions, no matter how vigorous the
individual plant. Choose erect, strong, healthy plants. Select
ears of a desirable height on the stalk. They should be
neither too high or too low. We prefer ears of a height of
PLUMPNESS OF KEENELS AT GERM END
Ears (see ear No. 1) with too much space between kernels at cob should
not be used for seed purposes. Ears Nos. 2 and 3 are desirable
about three feet. There is a marked hereditary tendency
in the height of the ears on the stalks which makes it pos-
sible, through selection, to have very tall stalks with the
ears nearly touching the ground. This, however, is un-
doubtedly an undesirable extreme. We are strongly of the
opinion that the height of the ear on the stalk should be in
proportion to the height of the stalk. Johnson, or Boone
County White, corn produces a very tall stalk in this lati-
tude and unless bred low more ears will be above four feet
than under that height. Four feet is not an undesirable
height for so heavy a stalk.
In field selection, soundness and depth of kernel are
determined roughly by the weight of the ear. Determine
in advance what type is desired and then select ears
which conform to that type. Before selecting an ear,
examine it by pulling back the husk on one side. If it is not
desirable it can be left with little damage to the ear. Unless
SPACE BETWEEN THE EOWS
In ears Nos. 1 and 2 there is too much space between the rows. In ear No.
3 there is not enough space to enable the ear to dry properly. No. 4
shows the proper amount of space between the rows
field selection is undertaken in a thorough and painstaking
manner, the effort is often wasted.
KE-SORTING THE CORN
If corn is selected in the field, it is a good plan to gather
two or three times as much as will be needed so that it can
be carefully culled after it is thoroughly dry. Many unde-
sirable points are often seen in corn after it is dry that can
not be detected in the field. In order to make the compari-
son of ears as easy as possible, they should be placed on a
table. After all ears that show marked inferiority have been
PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
discarded, the remaining ears should be placed side by side
and at least two kernels removed from the middle of each
and placed above the ear for comparison. From now on
we can more easily study the different points by using the
corn score card.
THE CORN SCORE CARD
The score card is necessarily arbitrary and inflexible, and
should not be followed too closely in the final judging and
DEPTH OF KERNELS
In ears No. 1 and 2 the kernels are too shallow and the percentage of cob to
ear is too great. Ears Nos. 3 and 4 show deep wedge-shaped kernels
and will shell out a high percentage of corn
comparison of samples. Nevertheless, it is the best aid the
beginner has for determining the relative values and differ-
ent points of merit in different samples. The corn growers'
associations in the different states have all adopted some
form of score card to be used in the work of corn judging
at their annual short courses held at the state agricultural
SELECTING BEST EARS FOR SEED
The following table is the revised score card as adopted
by the Illinois Corn Growers' Association, January 25, 1911 :
MEASUREMENT OP VARIETIES
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF STATE
Eeid 's Yellow Dent
6. 5 in.
6. 5 in.
Boone or Johnson County White ....
Biley 's Favorite
6. 5 in.
6. 5 in.
6. 5 in.
Champion White Pearl
6. 5 in.
16. 5 in.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN
DISTRICTS OF STATE
Eeid 's Yellow Dent
9 5 in.
Boone or Johnson County White. ....
Eiley 's Favorite
Golden Eagle ,
Champion White Pearl
General Classes .
THE CORN SCORE CARD
Length of ear
Circumference of ear
Color in grain and cob
Shape of ear
Uniformity of exhibit
Tips of ears
Butts of ears
Space between rows
Space between kernels at cob
Vitality or seed condition
Trueness to type
Proportion of shell corn to ear
102 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
EXPLANATION OP POINTS IN THE SCORE CARD
1. Length of Ears: The' minimum length of the ear depends on
the variety under consideration; thus, the minimum length of Eetd's
Yellow Dent in the Central Illinois Division is 9.5 inches, Golden
Eagle is 9 inches and White Pearl is 8 inches. The deficiencies in
length of all ears (in a ten ear sample) are added together, for every
inch thus resulting a cut of two points is made. The length is
measured from the butt to the extreme tip.
2. Circumference of Ears: The minimum circumference, like the
length, varies with the variety measurement. The deficiencies in cir-
cumference of all ears (in a ten-ear sample) are added together, and for
every inch thus resulting a cut of two points is made. The circumference
is measured at about one-third the distance from the butt to the tip of
3. Color: In judging color, a red cob in white corn or a white
cob in yellow corn is cut ten points. For one mixed kernel, a cut of
one-fifth of a point is made; for two, two-fifths of a point, and so
on up to five or more, when a one point cut is made for each additional
off-kernel. Kernels missing may be counted as mixed, at the discre-
tion of the judge. Differences in shade of color of grain or cob are
scored according to variety characteristics.
4. Shape of Ears: All ears should be cylindrical with straight rows
and with proper proportion of length and circumference. The shape
of the ear should conform to the variety type; thus Learning ears
should be slightly tapering.
5. Uniformity of Exhibit: Ears should be uniform in shape,
length and circumference.
6. Tips of Ears: Oval shape and regularly filled out with large
dented kernels. In selecting for seed it is sometimes not advisable
to insist that the tip be covered. If well covered tips are selected
year after year the ears will become shortened and more will be lost
7. Butts of Ears: Kernels rounded over the end of the cob in
regular manner, leaving a deep depression where shank is removed.
Properly filled butts indicate perfect pollination and a relatively high
proportion of corn to cob. At present there is not as much stress laid
upon good butts and tips as formerly. A good butt, however, is more
important than a good tip.
8. Kernel Uniformity: Kernels from the same ear and from the
several ears should be uniform in size and shape. The kernels that
have been removed should be carefully compared. Ears should be dis-
carded whose kernels are exceptionally large or small, broad or narrow,
long or short. Kernel uniformity is more important than ear uni-
formity. The planter cannot be made to drop regularly if the kernels
are irregular. Other things being equal, too long kernels indicate
that the corn will be too late in maturing. The shortest kernels ripen
early but do not produce as much corn. Since the general tendency
NOTE: A part of this chapter pertaining to the explanations of the
corn score card was taken in the main from the Eleventh Annual Report
of the Illinois Corn Growers' Association.
SELECTING BEST EARS FOR SEED 103
is for kernels to become more shallow, deeper kernels should be planted
than is desired in the crop. See illustration.
9. Kernel Shape: This should conform to the variety type. Gen-
erally speaking, kernels should be wedge-shaped and full at the germ
end, except Champion White Pearl, which should be smoothly indented
with rounded top and nearly as wide as deep.
10. Space Between Bows: Furrows between rows and spaces caused
by round corners of kernels, which should be narrow, deep and sufficient
for perfect ventilation. See illustration.
11. Space Between Kernels at Cob: There should be little or no
space in row between kernels at cob. Considerable space in the row
between the kernels indicate immaturity and lack of vigor. Such ears
should not be used for seed. See illustration.
12. Vitality, or Seed Condition: Ears should be ripe, sound, dry
and of strong vitality. Grains of a pinkish color are objectionable,
since they indicate a diseased condition. Three dead ears disqualify
an entire exhibit. This is the most important point in the score card
as well as in selecting corn' for planting.
13. Trueness to Type: Conforming to variety characteristics in
variety classes and to the prevailing type in general classes, type is
determined largely by the shape and uniformity of the kernels. In
fact, if kernels are uniform and of the shape and indentation char-
acteristic of the variety in question, the ear or exhibit may be said
to have good type.
14. Proportion of Shelled Corn to Ear: In determining the pro-
portion of corn to cob, weigh each alternate ear in the exhibit. Shell
and weigh the cobs, and subtract weight of cobs from weight of ears,
which will give weight of corn. Divide the weight of corn by the
total weight of ears to get the percentage of corn. For each per cent
short of standard for the variety, a one-point cut is made.
We have tried to explain as clearly as possible in this chapter, the
factors which enter into the selection of corn for seed and exhibition
purposes. To tell on paper how to select corn is almost impossible.
For this reason we urge all readers of this book to attend the nearest
short course in corn judging if the opportunity presents itself. No
matter how little or how much you know about corn, you will learn
things that will be of practical benefit to you, as a corn grower, by
attending one of these short courses. There are no charges made for
taking these courses. Ralph M. Ainsworth, secretary of the Illinois
Corn Growers' and Stockmen's Convention, held at Urbana, will be
pleased to send the program and schedule to anyone writing to the
address on the title page of this book.
"The Study of Corn." Vernon M. Shoesmith.
"Successful Corn Culture." Prof. P. G. Holden.
"Selecting the Best Ears of Corn." Successful Farming. Oct., 1912.
THE "EAR TO THE ROW" BREEDING PLOT
Corn has improved greatly in type and yielding qualities
in the last twenty years. From a long, slender ear 1 on a
tall, heavy stalk, corn has been bred to a cylindrical ear
with deep grains, showing a percentage of grain to ear of
between eighty-five and ninety.
This improvement in type and yielding qualities has been
due to two things : First, the breeding plot ; secondly, field
selection. Improvements through the breeding plot are ac-
complished largely in a mechanical way, by the use of scales.
Field selection is done by the picker ever keeping before him
the ideal that he is striving to obtain.
To make the greatest progress in corn improvement, it is
necessary to combine breeding plot and field selection.
On the following pages we will give as well as we can
our method of conducting an ' ' ear to the row ' ' breeding plot.
PLANTING A CORN BREEDING PLOT
In starting a breeding plot, one hundred of the most
desirable ears are chosen. The ears of course should be well
matured and sound and the type as good as can be obtained,
since a mistake in the first selection may set the breeder back
a year or two. It is better to make a record of the measure-
ments of ears. (Illinois farmers can obtain blank registers
by applying to L. H. Smith, of the University of Illinois.)
If a breeding plot has been conducted before, ears, of course,
should be selected from the highest yielding rows of the pre-
vious year's plot.
106 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
After the description of the ears has been recorded, they
are shelled separately and the kernels of each placed in small
paper sacks. These sacks are tagged from one to one hundred
and are then placed in a grain sack and hung away from the
mice until time to plant in the spring. The best time and
place for this work is in the winter before the kitchen fire.
In order to prevent foreign pollenization the breeding plot
should be situated in a large field of the same variety. A
very convenient size of breeding plot is forty rods long and
one hundred rows wide (about twenty rods). Assuming that
the breeding plot is to be located in a forty-acre field, the
first thing is to stake off six or seven acres that contain no
ponds, and where the soil is of uniform richness. If the
ground of the whole field is prepared as corn ground should
be prepared, it is not necessary to give the breeding plot any
extra preparation. Planting should be done in the regular
way until the breeding plot is reached.
Before starting on the first row of the breeding plot, the
corn is all removed from the planter boxes and heavy paper
cones are inserted, if an edge drop planter is used. This is
to keep the corn from shifting to the center of the box.
The corn in sacks No. 1 and No. 2 is placed in each planter
box. If planted three grains to the hill, it will easily plant
the 40 rods, unless the ears were exceptionally small.
A stake should be driven at the end of the plot. As
soon as the driver is even with this stake, the regular field
corn is placed in the planter box. This corn is planted to
the end of the field and back to the stake. "When opposite
the stake on the return, the driver stops and removes all
the field corn in the planter boxes, empties into them the
contents from sacks No. 3 and No. 4, and plants to the place
Four rows from ears Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively, have
now been planted. The corn from ears Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 8
epanoj uido O
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108 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
are planted on the next round and so on until the plot is
finished. As soon as a row is planted, it is well to tie the
tag on the fence just back of the row. If the tags are
substantial they will serve to mark the rows until the breed-
ing plot has been cultivated the last time. After the corn
is laid by, it is best to place numbered stakes at the end
of each row. (See illustration.) For convenience, the two
sacks to be planted on each return should be taken to the
far end of the plot by the driver, placing them in his pocket
as he starts each round. As soon as the breeding plot is
finished, the planter boxes are filled with the regular seed
of the same variety and the rest of the field is planted.
Now we have a breeding plot in a large field of the same
variety. It is surrounded on three sides with the same kind
of corn, which prevents foreign pollenization. If the 100
ears were carefully shelled and placed in candy sacks as
suggested, it should not take more than five hours longer
to plant this corn than if planted in the regular way. The
breeding plot is cultivated at the same time as is the entire
field; in fact, one would not know that the breeding plot
existed if it were not for the tags at the end of the rows.
To secure a uniform stand, it is well to thin down to two
stalks to the hill after the corn has been plowed the first
time. The ears will be larger with two stalks to the hill
than with three.
It is almost necessary to detassel alternate rows. If not
detasseled, the corn in each row, being from a single ear,
would otherwise be closely inbred. When the alternate rows
are detasseled, the product of the detasseled rows only is
used. It can readily be seen that by this method cross pollen-
ization is insured.
THE "EAR TO THE ROW" BREEDING PLOT 109
Tasseling time usually comes at a very busy season of
the year, which makes it necessary to get the work done
quickly as well as thoroughly. This work can be done easily
by going between the rows astride a horse muzzled to prevent
destroying the corn. The tassels should be pulled, never cut.
The field should be gone over the first time when about two-
thirds of the tassels are just beginning to show. A second
going over a week later will get practically all of the re-
mainder, providing the work is carefully done. About two
weeks after the detasseling, the plot should be gone through
and all suckers and barren stalks removed. If there are
many suckers the breeder will be well repaid for this work
by the increase in yield.
The best time for the breeder to make observations for
maturity, soundness and position of ear on the stalk, is when
the earliest rows have just matured. The beginner in corn
breeding will be surprised to notice that the husks in some
rows will be brown and dry, while on other rows they will
be quite green.
When it comes to deciding what rows to reserve, your
opinion should be guided largely, but not altogether, by the
weight of corn in the individual rows. If the scales alone
were to make the decision, they would very likely indicate
that we should keep one of the latest maturing rows, since
they are often the highest yielders. To decide by weight
alone would be a very serious mistake. It is not necessary
to husk out and weigh separately every detasseled row in
the breeding plot. The rows that promise apparent quality
should be weighed out, and only those kept for seed that
show a yield above the average.
PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
BREEDING AND FIELD SELECTION
The purpose of the breeding plot is to determine qualities
not apparent in field selection. No one, not even an expert
corn judge, can pick out the highest yielders merely by
looking at the individual ears. In picking for quality one
might, unknowingly, turn down high yielders. The breeding
plot and the scales give the inherent quality, while score card
y lf . yi p^rryy-^t r vf^"r '
ONE HUNDRED HIGH YIELDING EARS
OF REID 'S YELLOW DENT
Used in 1913 breeding plot
selection indicates apparent quality and even show corn.
But show corn does not always possess the greatest utility.
Hence, the selection with the ideal in mind should be com-
bined with the breeding plot and scales in order to obtain
seed corn that will grow the greatest number of bushels.
In a herd of 25 brood sows it seldom happens that the
THE "EAR TO TEE BOW" BREEDING PLOT 111
finest show animal is the most prolific, the best mother, etc.
What the individual animal has done in the past is her
performance record. This is the best assurance of what she
will do in the future. At the same time, it is very desirable
that she conform as closely as possible to the score card.
The same is true of corn. Corn is even more susceptible
to breeding than either cattle or hogs, since there is more
room for improvement. For the farmer to know that his
seed corn for the coming season is from a high yielding strain
and will show a high germination test should be as impor-
tant to him as to know that his hogs are prolific or that his
cattle are easy feeders.
RESULTS OBTAINED IN BREEDING CORN
Progress in corn breeding is necessarily slow. Neverthe-
less, it should be every breeder's earnest endeavor to make
this progress steady and sure. To be perfectly candid, we
must say that in not a single instance have we ever obtained
spectacular results in corn breeding. If one were to start
with a very low type of corn the results through careful
selection and breeding would undoubtedly be very marked.
But starting with the very best type of the several varieties,
the improvement is not so rapid. In order not to be handi-
capped, the breeder should always start with the very best
seed that can be obtained.
Our own work in corn breeding tends to show that the
ear has very little hereditary tendency to reproduce itself in
size. The matter of size depends more on local field condi-
tions and the hereditary tendency of the kernel. On the
other hand, like kernels from small and large ears of the
same variety often produce ears of the same size. This tends
to prove that a good shaped kernel is of more importance than
a good shaped ear. Medium sized ears out-yield exceptionally
large ears because the very large ear is generally later in
maturing. Hence, the kernel does not have the vitality pos-
sessed by the kernel from the smaller ear. We believe, by
carefully selecting our seed from the high yielding rows in
the breeding plots and, at the same time, following the rules
for field selection, we can accomplish as much in one year as
we could in five by using field selection alone. We are so
sure of this that we are conducting three breeding plots.
Since the results of the breeding plots are always affected to a
considerable extent by season and varying soil conditions,
we are not prepared, as yet, to make the above statements
dogmatically. It will take several more years' experiment on
our part to prove or disprove the above points. The breeder
who guesses at results is a hindrance and not a help to
There are other points, however, on which we are con-
vinced beyond a doubt : First, a medium type of any variety
of corn will out-yield a very rough type. The result of last
year's breeding indicates that the rough type averaged in
yield only 89.6 per cent of that of the medium type. Mr.
Chas. A. Bowe of Jacksonville has obtained practically these
Some breeders have had results proving that a very
smooth type will out-yield the rough. We consider, however,
the smooth type a dangerous extreme, since it does not dry
out as well as the rougher type. (The rougher the type the
longer the average length of kernels.) Our results show
that the detasseled rows do not yield as well as the rows
where the tassels are not interfered with. Even if the work
is carefully done, pulling the tassels cuts the yield about
5 per cent. The loss is correspondingly greater if the work
is carelessly done. This shows that detasseling should be
undertaken only in the breeding plot and for the express
purpose of insuring cross pollenization.
114 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
Suckering corn and cutting out barren stalks increase
the yield sometimes as much as forty per cent, depending on
the number of suckers and the dryness of the season. Our
greatest gain was the result of cutting out over half the
stalk growth on a very dry year (1913). The sooner this
work can be done after the corn tassels, the better. Two men
in six days can cut out the suckers and barren stalks in the
average forty-acre field. It is not necessary to have an "ear
to the row" breeding plot in order to test the results of
detasseling and suckering. These two experiments can be
made in any field of corn.
There are hundreds of things to be determined by corn
breeding, but the work is so slow that no one individual can
be expected to establish more than a few facts. Realizing
that co-operation was necessary in order to make the most
rapid progress, the Illinois Seed Corn Breeders' Association
was organized in 1900. One member of this association,
Louie H. Smith, assistant chief in plant breeding at the
University of Illinois, has succeeded in breeding a high and
low protein and high and low oil corn. Mr. Smith's work
along this line of breeding has extended over fifteen years.
His results are undoubtedly the most pronounced of any that
have been attempted in corn breeding.
The work of producing hybrid seed has been carried on
by H. J. Sconce, of Sidell, 111. Mr. Leigh F. Maxey, of
Curran, 111., has perhaps done more than any other indi-
vidual in breeding and establishing the type characteristic
of Learning corn.
OBSTACLES TO CONTEND WITH IN BREEDING CORN
The corn breeder is often discouraged by adverse condi-
tions over which he has no control. Cutworms may make
.the stand so uneven that the weight of the corn in the indi-
THE "EAR TO THE ROW" BREEDING PLOT 115
vidual rows would be of no advantage. We have had a
breeding plot ruined by water standing in a depression in
the center of the field. If the scales are to help select seed
by pointing out high yielding strains, the stand must be
This last summer of 1913, which was one of the dryest
crop years we have ever seen, was a poor year for indicating
the relative value of seed from the different rows. We do
not consider our results from that year's breeding to be of
half the value of those obtained in 1911 and 1912. While
these facts are discouraging, the corn breeder is still better
off than the grower of pure bred hogs, who may lose his
entire herd from cholera.
CARING FOR THE BEST EARS
After the corn has been carefully husked and weighed,
the best ears from the most desirable rows should be care-
fully dried by laying on racks. The racks can be of wood
or wire, or the corn can be strung on binder twine. If the
breeding plot is gathered in October, it can safely be dried
by hanging in a dry loft ; but if gathered later, it is generally
best to dry in a mildly heated room, since the germ might
be injured by a sudden cold spell coming before the moisture
was all out of the ear.
One should never go to the other extreme and lay corn
on boards over the furnace. This, of course, will soon dry
the corn, but it will also cause some of the oil to evaporate,
which undoubtedly weakens the germ.
These methods of securing high yielding seed may seem
too expensive to some, but when one stops to consider that an
increase of only ten per cent often means a difference of
from 100 to 400 bushels, on the average farm, one can see
that this time is well spent.
Corn shows and short courses in corn judging are for
116 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
the purpose of educating farmers and farmers' boys to grow
more prolific seed and to know how to select and care for it
through the winter. To get the greatest benefit from these
courses offered in corn judging, they should be supplemented
by practical work in corn breeding on the farm.
This chapter has been taken in the main from an article
in the January 15th issue of the Prairie Farmer entitled
''Breeding Corn for Quality and Productiveness," by Ralph
''Ten Generations of Corn Breeding." By Louie H. Smith.
111. Agri. Ex. Sta. Bulletin No. 128.
"Increased Yields of Corn from Hybrid Seed." By G. N.
Collins. U. S. Dept. of Agri. 1910.
"The Production of Good Seed Corn." By C. P. Hartley.
U. S. Farmers' Bulletin No. 229.
"The Study of Corn." By Vernon M. Shoesmith.
DRYING AND STORING SEED CORN
The importance of preserving all the vitality by gather-
ing the seed corn for next year's planting before cold freezing
weather sets in is being appreciated more and more by farm-
ers and corn growers. There are, however, a large number
of farmers who still depend for the coming year's seed upon
the occasional good ear found throughout the husking season.
Still others are satisfied with the best looking ears found in
the corn crib in the spring. The loss sustained by these two
classes varies with the mildness or severity of late fall weather
and the picker's ability to detect the sound from the unsound
Let us say right here that even the most experienced are
sometimes deceived in the condition of the ear by the appear-
ance of the germ. A yellow or brownish embryo and germ
indicate that the corn has been frozen. When the embryo
is wrinkled or pale in color it usually means a loss of vitality
due to long storage. Old corn that has been carried over
one summer should never be planted if sound new corn can
be secured. While old corn will usually grow, it is always
slow in starting, due to the evaporation of some of the oil
from the germ.
A good healthy germ and embryo should be nearly white ;
but germination tests prove that some kernels have white
clean cut germs and still send up a weak sprout due to
exposure and bad storing. The only way to be sure that seed
will grow is to plant only seed that has been carefully dried
before hard freezing weather sets in.
PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
TIME TO GATHER SEED CORN
In this latitude, October is undoubtedly the best month in
which to gather seed corn. If this important work is put off
until the middle of November, the vitality of the seed may
be injured by wet weather, followed by a hard freeze. On
the other hand, it is not a good plan, as a general rule, to
gather seed as early as September. Unless there are indi-
cations of early freezes, corn should be allowed to ripen in
the field. Professor P. G. Holden, in "Successful Corn Cul-
ture," says, "It is not a good plan to harvest the seed in
MODEEN SEED CORN DRYING PLANT
September while the corn is immature, as it is more difficult
to preserve, will be chaffy and give weaker plants than corn
which has been allowed to fully mature on the stalk." Seed
corn that has been picked before it is matured shows a
shriveled condition of the kernels after it is thoroughly dried.
BEST PLACE FOR THE FARMER TO STORE SEED CORN
A storeroom or bedroom that can be spared is the best
place for the farmer to store seed corn. The attic, if not too
inaccessible, is also a good place, although zero weather before
DRYING AND STORING SEED CORN 119
the corn was dry would weaken some of the sappiest ears
unless the attic could be heated. Notwithstanding the danger
of frost, the attic is far ahead of the cellar. If there is a
furnace in the cellar the corn is apt to dry too quickly or to
become too dry. Remember, if corn is allowed to become too
dry, it will be slow in starting in the spring. If there is no
furnace in the cellar, the corn will dry too slowly unless it
is well dried before being placed there. Again, the average
cellar does not have sufficient ventilation for the proper
drying and storing of corn. On all good drying days the
windows should be thrown wide open. There is nothing
that dries seed better than a warm, dry breeze blowing
through it as it lays on the racks. When the weather is damp,
the windows should be closed if a door can be opened into
the rest of the house. If not, the windows should never be
closed entirely, unless the room is very large and the amount
of corn small. If a tight room is filled with new corn, the
corn is apt to mold, no matter how well it is hung up, unless
the room is constantly ventilated. Moisture, as it leaves the
corn, must have some means of escaping.
LAYING ON RACKS
For several years past, we have dried all of our ear seed
corn on wooden racks. These racks are built of one by four
inch uprights in which tenpenny nails are driven every four
inches and on which heavy lathe are laid. .(See illustration.)
The racks are all placed on slatted floors which permit perfect
ventilation. There are a number of good ways to dry seed
corn. An old and very good plan is to string the ears on
binder twine and suspend them from the ceiling. Of late
years, various kinds of wire hangers for drying corn have
been placed on the market. If these hangers are not placed
too close together they will dry the corn as well as any other
DRYING AND STORING SEED CORN 121
method. If the hangers are made out of woven fence wire,
they tangle badly when the corn is removed, and, if made
of steel, they are rather too expensive.
STORING SEED CORN ON A LARGE SCALE
In order to dry corn to the best advantage, the drying
room should be so constructed that it can be thrown open
on all sides in mild weather. It should be tight enough when
closed up to enable it to be evenly heated in cold weather.
A plant built especially for drying corn for seed should be
tall with the floors slatted to allow a free circulation of air
from bottom to top. There should always be ventilating
flues in the roof, and these should never be closed until the
corn is dry. Corn should be gathered early and taken direct
to the plant where it is picked over the same day and laid
on racks or put in ventilated cribs. -Corn, to show the highest
germination, should be gathered as soon as it has ripened
in the field and stored in a room that is frost proof and at
the same time thoroughly ventilated.
Great advancement has been made in the last ten years in
the construction of buildings made especially for the drying
and preparing of seed corn for market. Some well venti-
lated and thoroughly heated plants have not given the best
results, simply because they w T ere filled too full of seed corn.
We are of the opinion that in order to obtain the best results,
no seed drying plant should be filled to more than one-half
of its crib capacity.
PREPARING SEED CORN FOR PLANTING
There is only one way by which the farmer can be certain
that his seed corn is strong in vitality, that is, to give it a
germination test. By an examination of the germ, most of
us can tell whether the kernel is healthy or dead; but no
man's judgment can be depended upon to detect unerringly
the strong from the weak. For this reason, a sample from all
corn to be planted should be tested and, if it does not show
a germination of at least ninety-five per cent, each individual
ear should be tested.
One hundred good sized ears will plant ten acres. One
man can easily examine and place in the tester the kernels
from four hundred ears in one day. This is enough seed to
plant forty acres, and if only a few weak or dead ears are
revealed by the test, the farmer is well repaid for his trouble.
This question is often asked, If the corn is selected from
the field before freezing weather sets in and is properly
dried will it be necessary to test it? If all this has been
done, it will perhaps not be necessary to test each ear; but
in order to be sure the seed is strong, a fair composite sample
should be tested. If the results do not show uniformly strong
sprouts, the ears should be individually tested and the weak
thrown out. There are so many different conditions that
can weaken the vitality of seed corn that the only safe plan
is to test at least a sample.
All seed sent out by reliable seed corn growers is sold
under a definite germination guarantee of from ninety to
ninety-seven -per cent. This germination is determined after
making numerous tests from all parts of the plant. If a
certain percentage of germination is guaranteed the grower
is honor bound, as well as required by law, to replace or
return the purchase price for all seed falling short of germi-
If there is any doubt about the vitality of seed corn pur-
chased from a seed firm or neighbor, it should be tested
before making a complaint. A conservative seed corn grower
will always guarantee less than the results of the germina-
tion tests, as most breeders do. A guarantee of ninety-five
per cent is a strong guarantee for seed that will usually go
over ninety-nine per cent.
Some customers, in placing their order for seed corn,
state that they expect to test the seed when it arrives; and
if it does not test a certain amount, it will be returned.
This is sometimes a stiff proposition but it is made fairly
and squarely. The breeder alone knows whether or not his
seed will come up to the requirements and the order should
be accepted or declined accordingly.
THE FOUR ESSENTIALS OF GERMINATION
All seeds, to make the most rapid growth, must be strong
in vitality. The seed bed also must be of the right tempera-
ture and must contain the proper amount of moisture and
If corn is gathered before it has had time to ripen in
the field, the kernels will be immature. Immature corn, due
to the larger amount of sugar in the kernels, will usually
germinate rapidly under ideal conditions, but since it has a
small reserve of plant food, the kernels will rot if the ground
is cold and wet, before the young rootlets have "a chance to
draw from outside sources.
PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
Again, the vitality of the seed will be weakened if sub-
jected to either repeated freezing or high temperatures. Corn
will germinate between the wide variation of from forty-eight
to one hundred and fifteen degrees. It will make the most
MODERN SEED CORN
rapid growth, however, at ninety-three degrees. Since it will
make a more hardy growth at about eighty degrees, this is
perhaps the best temperature for germination.
Moisture is just as essential as proper temperature. Water
softens the seed covering, dissolves the plant food and carries
it to the growing embryo. Too much moisture, however,
means too little oxygen. This is the principal reason for
seed rotting in heavy, wet land. Corn cannot make rapid
growth without an abundance of air.
THE SEED TESTER
Conditions which apply to the field apply equally well
to the seed corn tester. If the seed corn tester is to show
accurately by its results the true condition and the relative
value of the different ears, it must provide sufficient moist-
ure, give ample ventilation, and keep the temperature be-
tween sixty and one hundred degrees. It had better fall
below sixty degrees than go above one hundred degrees. In
order not to give some of the kernels an advantage over
others, the moisture, temperature and ventilation should be
uniform in all .parts of the tester.
The trays should be pigeonholed off in such a manner
that the kernels from e.ach ear can be placed in a separate
pocket so that their identity will not be lost. A good time
to test seed corn is in March. This is late enough for all
the ears to show their true condition and is early enough to
allow the farmer to procure more seed, if the test is unsatis-
factory, before spring work requires his attention.
SHELLING AND GRADING CORN FOR PLANTING
Before corn is shelled, it should be carefully tipped and
butted since the tip and butt grains are irregular in size,
besides being smaller and larger than the type desired. After
the uneven grains are shelled off the tip and butt ends, the
remaining kernels should be carefully examined and all
off-colored or undesirable grains removed.
The ears are now shelled. If the shelling is done by
(C jurtesy A. T. Ferrell & Co.)
LAEGE SEED COEN GEADEK
128 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
machinery, the spring tension should be as loose as possible
consistent with effective work. If considerable corn is cracked
in shelling, the indications are that the corn was either too
dry, or the sheller is not properly adjusted.
In order to secure a uniformity, a corn grader should be
used. There are hundreds of corn graders on the market.
They range in price from five dollars for small ones to eight
hundred dollars for large graders used in large seed corn
drying plants. The very cheapest corn graders will do better
work than will the average farm fan mill. A good grader
should take out all the large and small grains and about
nine-tenths of the cracked kernels.
It is necessary to take out from twenty per cent to forty
per cent in order to have an even grade. The difference in
yield between graded and ungraded seed is often as much
as ten bushels per acre. This difference is due to the more
even planting of graded seed, not because the smaller and
larger kernels are poorer yielders.
"The Study of Corn." By Vernon M. Shoesmith.
"Corn." By Bowman and Crossby.
"Seed Corn Must Make Good." By L. C. Hutcheson. Corn.
"Make Corn Growing Pay." The Fruit Grower and Farmer,
"Getting Ready for This Year's Corn Crop." Twentieth
Century Farmer. February 22, 1913.
"Ten Bushels More Corn to the Acre." By Robt. H. Moul-
ton. Fruit Grower and Farmer. March, 1913.
"It Pays to Test the Seed Corn." By Arthur Lumbrick.
The Prairie Farmer. March 15, 1913.
INSECT ENEMIES AND PLANT DISEASES
Of all the obstacles to the successful growing of corn,
none has ever shown itself in a more serious aspect than the
destruction due to injurious insects and plant diseases. The
problem of how to control them is a hard one and should
receive the attention of every farmer.
We do not feel competent in ourselves to handle this
subject of insects and diseases attacking corn, and for this
reason we have appealed to Prof. S. A. Forbes, Illinois State
Entomologist, who has carefully helped us by correcting and
revising this chapter. In addition to this we want to thank
Professor Forbes for furnishing us illustrations of insects.
On the following pages we shall describe briefly the more
injurious of these insects, and suggest remedies with which
to suppress them.
INSECTS INJURING THE SEED AFTER PLANTING
The Corn Wire worm (Several species of melanotus):
These are the larvas (offspring) of the common snapping
beetles. They are hard, smooth-skinned, reddish brown,
worm-like creatures, and vary in size from the thickness of
a pin to the thickness of a darning-needle. The body is
divided into thirteen segments, and has three pairs of short,
The corn wireworm eats into the kernel after it has been
softened by the moisture in the ground, and also bores into
PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
and even through the underground part of the stalk. This
usually results in the total destruction of the plant.
Their eggs are laid most commonly in grasslands, and
their life history is such that their injuries to corn are most
severe the second year after grass. Late fall plowing and
The Corn Wire-
tus cribulosus, )
The Corn Wireworm
crop rotation with frequent clover crops are the practical
methods employed to prevent injury by this insect.
Seed Corn Maggot (Phorlia fusciceps): This maggot
eats the interior out of both sprouting and unsprouted ker-
nels. The adult is very similar in appearance to the common
INSECT ENEMIES AND PLANT DISEASES 131
house fly. Severe injuries by this insect are unusual, and
there is no known method of preventing them.
INSECTS ATTACKING THE ROOTS
The Corn Root Louse (Aphis) : Every farmer has noticed
the little blue insects clustered in great numbers on the
ADULT OF SEED COEN MAGGOT
LAEVAE OF SEED COEN MAGGOT
roots of the corn. They feed on the juice of the corn root,
and if present in large numbers sometimes kill the plant.
Later in the season another kind of aphis is found on the
132 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
leaves, husks and tassels of the plant. There seems to be a
partnership existing between the corn root louse and the com-
mon field ant. The ant places the young of the aphis on
the roots of the corn plant and for this service it feeds on a
liquid known as honeydew, which exudes from the body of
Remedy: Thorough cultivation, by checking the work
of the ants has a wonderful effect in lessening the number
THE CORN EOOT LOUSE
Aphis maidiradicis (female)
of the lice. If the ants are working much around the hills
we harrow the young corn. Where furrow openers are used
the harrowing pulls loose dirt around the hills and effectu-
ally checks the work of the ants until after the next rain.
Rotation, however, is a standard practical method of check-
ing the injury although it cannot be said to eradicate this
As the ants winter in old cornfields, with the eggs of the
INSECT ENEMIES AND PLANT DISEASES 133
root lice in their nests, the best preventive of injury is to
prepare the field for corn by deep and early plowing and
repeated discing. This tears up the ants' nests and scatters
the root-louse eggs through the dirt, at the same time keeping
down the young weeds upon which the root lice live until
the corn begins to grow.
The corn root louse has perhaps worked a greater injury
to corn than any other one insect. Every farmer should
THE COEN BOOT LOUSE
Aphis maidiradicis (female)
study the habits of this insect and make every effort to
check its injurious work.
The Corn Root Worm (Diabrotica longicornis) : The
adult of the corn root worm is a beetle; green or yellowish
green in color and about a quarter of an inch long. The
beetle feeds on the pollen and silk and deposits her eggs
in the ground at the base of the stalk. The following spring
these eggs hatch out into the corn root worms.
134 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
Since the corn root worm is dependent for its food upon
the roots of the corn the eggs are seldom deposited outside
of the cornfield. It is due to this fact that a cornfield is
never injured by the corn root worm the first year and
even the second year the damage done is usually very slight.
But if the field is put in corn three or four years in succes-
sion it is very doubtful if the last two crops ever escape
without serious injury. In some cases we have known the
yield of corn to be lowered from thirty to forty per cent
as a direct result of the ravages of these insects.
The corn root worm lives on the roots of the corn plant.
They often eat off the ends of the roots of the plant and
then burrow just under the outer covering of the root the
entire length of the root. The corn root worm can be easily
found by carefully splitting an injured root. It is usually
about three-eighths of an inch long and about the thickness
of a pin and of a white or flesh color.
It can safely be said that the damages resulting from the
corn root worm are due entirely to the bad practice of con-
tinuous corn cropping. If a rotation of crops is adopted in
which corn is never grown longer than two years in suc-
cession we shall soon have the corn root worm under easy
control. If crop rotation were only as effective in checking
other insects as it is in heading off the corn root worm, the
insect problem would not present the serious aspect it does.
White Grub (several species of lachnosterna:) This is
the larvae of the common May beetle. These beetles usually
deposit their eggs in fields of grass, timothy and small grains,
and especially in the vicinity of timber where they feed.
The eggs hatch into small brown-headed grubs, which
feed on the grass and corn roots. They do not attain their
full growth until the third or fourth year. They are most
abundant in old blue-grass pastures. Their presence can
INSECT ENEMIES AND PLANT DISEASES 135
be detected by the fact that the grass dies out in the spots
where they are thickest.
The surest way to rid the cornfield of grubworms is to
pasture it with hogs the summer before it is put in corn.
The hogs will root to a depth of a foot or more in search of
grubs. A cornfield that is hogged down is usually free from
White Grub, (L. rugosa)
A June bug, adult of white grub, (Lach-
nosterna rugosa, a), last segments
of male, from beneath
grubs the next year. Rotating with clover and alfalfa is
an effective means of checking the grubs.
The 1913 report of the United States Department of
Agriculture places the damage from white grubs in Iowa,
Wisconsin and Illinois at $7,000,000 during the year 1912.
INSECTS ATTACKING THE STALK
Cutworms: There are a number of species of cutworms,
all of which are more or less troublesome to the farmer.
They are mostly clumsy and greasy-looking caterpillars of
PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
a grayish or brownish color and from one to two inches long.
The cutworm works mostly at night and during cloudy
weather and stays in its hiding place on bright days.
Glassy Cutworm (Hadina devastrix)
It works its injury to the corn by cutting off the young
plant just above the ground. The adults of cutworms are
Adult of Glassy Cutworm
Late fall plowing is almost a sure remedy since the cut-
worm is thrown on the surface and exposed to freezing
weather. At this time of year the worm is in the dormant
state and is unable to burrow back into the ground.
INSECT ENEMIES AND PLANT DISEASES 137
A method which we have found very effective in exter-
minating cutworms on our own fields is to work the ground
at such frequent intervals in the spring that every particle
of vegetation is destroyed. If no "plant growth is allowed
to start during April the greater portion of the cutworms
will be killed by starvation. This insect cannot withstand
hot weather with no green vegetation to feed upon.
Fortunately these worms have many natural enemies;
among them are the quail, robin, thrush and other birds,
which together keep their numbers down to a considerable
extent. These birds are among the best friends the farmer
has and should be protected in every way possible. There
are many other insects which attack the stalk and ear but
the limitations of this book will not permit of their
Ear Rot: This is a mold and belongs to the great group
of plants called fungi. The ear rot is whitish or pinkish in
appearance and in many cases the husks and silks are
cemented to the ear. The affected parts have lost their sub-
stance and are light in weight and brittle in appearance.
It is not definitely known how ear rot is caused, but it is
generally conceded that moisture and temperature have con-
siderable to do with it. "We are of the opinion that dry
weather in the fall followed by several weeks of warm wet
weather are ideal conditions for the spreading of this dis-
ease. "We had such a season as this in the fall of 1911,
which was the year when dry rot wrought its greatest damage
in central Illinois. "When the weather conditions are not so
favorable the disease seems to be confined to the very tip
of the ear, in which case the damage is very slight.
It is estimated that the loss to the corn crop in the United
138 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
States from this disease must sometimes amount to at least
$25,000,000 in one year.
Remedy: Since the spores live through the winter on the
old corn stalks some authorities urge the farmer to burn
the old stalks. It is our opinion, however, that the stalks
turned under will be a greater benefit to the land than the
injury due to the ear rot will be to the crop. Since the ear
rot does not attack any other crop than corn it is better to
put the field in some other crop and the corn on new ground
if the field was badly affected with the disease the year before.
Smut: Besides ear rot, smut is the only other disease
which injures corn to any extent. Smut in appearance is
greenish white or black and is usually noticed on the green
stalk or leaf. Smut grows very rapidly and sometimes forms
balls four inches in diameter. These balls are composed of
millions of plants which are individually too small to be seen
with the naked eye. While infection may be brought about
directly by the spore alighting on the corn plant it is chiefly
due to the conidia which are the result of the spore germi-
nating in manure or heavily manured soil. While corn smut
is abundant all over the United States, it seems that the
injury in any one field is never great. Every year we see
more or less smut in our own fields, but we have never
known a field to be injured as much as one per cent.
It is claimed by many farmers that smut is injurious to
cattle and horses and that it is the cause of the corn-stalk
disease. In order to prove or disprove this opinion the
Bureau of Animal Industry has carried on a number of
experiments in feeding smut to cattle and horses. The results
of these experiments show that there are no injurious effects
produced by feeding smut. The best way to kill smut is to
cut out and burn the diseased stalks, but this will not pre-
vent its reappearance unless it is practiced over a large
INSECT ENEMIES AND PLANT DISEASES 139
ROTATION, CAREFUL PREPARATION OF THE SEED BED AND
THOROUGH CULTURE ARE THE BEST MEANS OF
PREVENTING INSECTS AND DISEASES
We stated in the chapter on "Rotation of Crops" that
crop rotation was worth more than all other methods com-
bined in checking insect enemies and plant diseases. "We
want to repeat here that the greater part of the injury result-
ing from insects and diseases attacking corn can be traced
directly to the continuous cropping of corn year after year.
The methods we have used in checking these pests on our
own farms are crop rotation, thorough and clean culture,
and in some cases fall plowing and pasturing with hogs.
Various insecticides are practical and helpful to the gardener
and orchardist, but in our opinion they are rather too expen-
sive for the Corn Belt farmer. Farmers by co-operation can
often accomplish more than they could by individual efforts.
All toads, most of the snakes and birds, and many of the in-
sects are the farmers' friends, and should be protected in
every way possible.
CORN LETTERS FROM THIRTY FARMERS
"No man Tcnows all there is to be known about farm-
ing let us all get together and learn from each other."
From the above quotation we received the inspiration to
write to thirty-five of the best farmers in the Corn Belt and
ask them to give us the benefit of their experience as corn
growers. The thirty letters on the following pages are the
result of our investigation. It was necessary, because of
the lack of space, to condense some of the letters but in no
case have we taken anything from these letters because it
advocated a practice contrary to our own.
Some of these methods of culture described are different
from our own ideas but we are firmly convinced that the
letters taken as a whole advocate a practical, thorough cul-
ture and represent the methods employed by the best farmers
in the different parts of the Corn Belt.
"We want to thank, sincerely, our farmer friends who took
the time to send us these splendid letters telling how they
grow corn. From some of the letters we have received some
valuable suggestions which we expect to test out next spring
Experience is surely the best teacher and for this reason
we have tried to eliminate theory and make this book a
book of corn experience. How well we have succeeded must
be left to the judgment of the reader.
CORN LETTERS FROM THIRTY FARMERS 141
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: Our soil is heavy, rich and level. I plow what ground
I can in the fall and the rest in the spring, and it is plowed as deep
as the team can pull the plow. It should be plowed eight to ten
All stalks are cut and turned under in order to add humus to the
soil. As soon as the ground is plowed in the spring it is harrowed
and later it is worked into a seed bed with the harrow and disc.
I use weeders both before and after the corn is up in preference
to the harrow.
I start plowing corn when it is from two to six inches tall. The
first time over I cultivate deep, but later cultivations are shallower. I
cultivate the corn all I have time to, which, of course, varies with dif-
ferent seasons. The cultivation is always continued until the corn is
BO tall it begins to break under the arch of the cultivator.
I shall look forward to receiving your book on "Practical Corn
Culture." Very respectfully yours,
Arcola, Illinois, April 9th, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Dear Sirs: I am writing in answer to your letter to give you my
experience as a corn grower.
Our soil is a black, heavy loam and is very level; in fact, it is so
level that it is necessary to survey before laying tile.
We think our soil is the cream of the Corn Belt, at least that is
what the wise men at Champaign tell us.
I prefer to have my corn ground plowed in the fall and usually
succeed in getting all the sod and pasture plowed at that time. I am
fully convinced that fall plowing should be at least six inches deep.
Since the stalks add humus I prefer to cut them and turn them
under. If the tenant farmer is not equipped with implements for cut-
ting the stalks he had better burn them, where corn follows corn, since
they will be in the way of cultivation.
If the ground is packed we use the disc, if freshly plowed the
spike-tooth harrow in preparing the seed bed. We usually harrow
ground just after plowing. I consider all work on the seed bed time
142 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
We plant with a check-rower planter three feet four inches each
way. When three to four inches high the corn is cultivated about
three inches deep.
The small shovels are used for the first two plowings and for the
later cultivating the surface cultivator. The last plowing is not over
two inches deep. We cultivate from three to four times, depending
on the season. The corn is plowed until it is so tall it breaks badly.
If the season is dry we drag between the rows with a planter wheel,
single harrow or one-horse cultivator.
P. S. We are experimenting with alfalfa in a small way.
Weldon, Illinois, April 28th, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen : Our soil, a deep, retentive loam, is heavy and level. All
stalks are of necessity plowed in the spring.
I do not believe in burning stalks. The soil needs all the humus
that can be put back on it. Turning stalks under helps to keep the
In working plowed ground down, we use the spike tooth harrow
and disc. All ground plowed the day before is harrowed down the
The corn is planted with a check rower planter and is checked
three feet six inches one way and three feet four inches the other.
The corn is always harrowed before it comes up and after if it is
necessary to kill the weeds.
I start cultivating the corn when it is about four inches tall.
Surface cultivators are used altogether, and they are run just deep
enough to cut off and cover all weeds. We cultivate from three to
four times and lay by when the corn is from three to four feet tall.
In preparing the seed bed I use an iron corrugated roller to ad-
vantage if there are many clods. I consider the corrugated roller one
of the best implements on the farm.
Very respectfully yours,
CORN LETTERS FROM THIRTY FARMERS 143
TJnionville, Mo., April 20th, 1913.
Messrs. W. T. Ainsworth Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: I am of the opinion that, but few farmers realize the
importance of the properly prepared seed bed, and a good many who
do realize it, do not put it into practice. Many of us make noble
resolutions in December but fail to carry them out in May. I have
seen many farmers plow sod in the spring, disc and harrow once,
and plant twice, (the first planting did not come up), with the natural
result that the corn-pens were slim in the fall.
I know of a farmer who did not work sod ground this last year,
until time to plant. His reasons were, that the season had been wet
the year before and the plowed ground was better if left alone. But
this season was dry, with the results that this field on sod made only
ten bushels per acre. It is always safe to work sod ground down,
and the drier the season is, the more work will be needed, and the
better the work will pay. Sod should be disced from two to four times,
depending on its toughness. I disced one field four times this year,
and there is no doubt but that it paid me. I use the disc and harrow
in preference to the drag. If the ground is not too wet, I harrow the
corn after it is planted. It pays to buy good seed corn of a reliable
breeder. PEAEL FIFE.
Mr. Fife is a breeder of pure bred O. I. C. SWINE.
Atoka, Oklahoma, April 22nd, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: I am somewhat surprised and pleased to see that
Illinois farmers ask advice from an Oklahoma farmer in regard to
growing corn. The methods I follow would not be well suited to
Illinois conditions, but they are practiced by the most enterprising
farmers in all sections when there is a deficiency of rainfall.
As soon as the corn is gathered the stalks are cut and the ground
listed up with a fourteen-inch lister and subsoiled with a long, shallow
plow. After plowing, the ground should be let alone until spring.
When I am ready to plant in the spring I relist, subsoil and plant.
For the first cultivation I use four long calf-tongue plows and
plow good and deep. The next plowing I use shovel plows. I lay by
with a disc cultivator when the corn is about waist high.
Yours truly, DUTCH JONES.
144 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
Luray, Mo., April 19, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Dear Sirs: Yours of recent date received in regard to corn raising.
I have a light rolling soil which I plow in the spring if it is stalk
ground. I think spring plowing will produce a bigger crop than fall
plowing, since the ground does not run together badly. Since this is
a shallow soil I generally plow about four inches deep. I never burn
stalks when corn follows corn, but drag them down and plow them
under, since they prevent the soil from washing on rolling land and
help to keep up the fertility. I use split log drags and tooth harrows
for working the ground down after plowing. I plow all the ground
that I plant to corn before planting any, usually drag or harrow the
ground twice before planting, and then harrow after planting before
it comes up. I never harrow corn after it is up. The corn is usually
three or four inches tall when I cultivate it the first time. I use
six-shovel cultivators and I consider them the best, all things considered.
I cultivate three times and the corn is usually from two to three feet
tall when I lay it by. Yours truly,
A. L. PORTEE.
Kentland, Indiana, April 12th, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: The soil in this community is a black loam, with just
a little sand. It is nearly level, and well drained.
I generally plow my oats stubble in the fall. I try to plow be-
tween seven and eight inches, and not lay the furrows too flat, as this
ground has a tendency to run together. I like early plowing as it is
generally dry and plows up lumpy, so that when the time comes to
prepare it for corn, it is mellow, and works up fine.
In the spring as soon as the oats are sowed I take the spreader
and top dress all the spots that I know to be thin. As soon as the
manure is spread, I start my solid-wheel disc, generally crosswise, the
way it was plowed. Just as soon as I get it disced once, I change
to the spader and go the long way, and follow with the harrow. This
puts the ground in fine shape, if we have an average season, but I
found it necessary to disc my ground four times last year, and I am
sure it paid. I generally follow about a day being the harrow with my
corn planter. This gives the top of the ground time to dry off, and
you don't have to use scrapers on your planter. I aim to plant two
CORN LETTERS FROM THIRTY FARMERS 145
grains to the hill, and three by six each way. As soon as I finish
planting, I harrow the field crosswise, and as soon as the corn begins
to come up, I harrow it the other way. I do not wait for the corn
to get a given height, but put in my eight-shovel eagle claw cultivator
and walk, as I don't believe a man can do as good a job riding. I
believe if you do not get up to the corn the first and second times
and get the weeds out of the hills, you will have weeds in the fall.
In this section of the Corn Belt, the use of all surface plows, from the
first, I think is a mistake, since the rains beat the ground down, and
it requires the shovel plow to loosen it. The small cultivator gives
you plenty of mulch so that when you use your gophers you can do a
good job. I use Tower Surface Plows the last three times. I always
run them deep enough, so that there will be' loose dirt falling over
the shovels at all times. If you don't do this you are bound to have
weeds between the rows. The last plowing the corn ought to be about
four feet high and I run my shovels just deep enough to get the dirt
up to the corn, and I figure on getting it layed by about the 4th of
July. HENEY DUTTENHAVEE,
E. F. D. No. 1, Kentland, Indiana.
Wheatland, Indiana, April 14th, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: I will give you my experience as a farmer on corn
PREPARATION OF SEED BED FOR CORN
Soil: My soil is what is known as white oak ri^ge soil, a mixture
between clay and loam, which will produce most any kind of grain
and hay. It is somewhat rolling, which forms a natural drainage.
I think the best time to plow stalk ground is in the spring, because
freezing and thawing injure fall plowed soils in our locality. We
always strive to build up our soil in every way possible for the production
of a bountiful harvest. I have always had better success growing crops
on spring plowed stalk ground than on fall plowed.
I plow six or seven inches deep for corn, and would prefer twelve
inches if I had the power to do the work. By plowing deep, you have
a deep soil which is necessary for a good corp of corn. The old
adage, "Plow deep while sluggards sleep and you will have corn to
sell and to keep," is certainly true.
146 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
Fanner friends, don't burn your cornstalks or your straw, both
are very valuable. Take your disc harrow and cut your stalks and see
how nicely they will plow under, by using a jointer on your plow.
We always plow the cornstalks under, because they are of great benefit
to the soil, by making it loose and porous, so the air can penetrate
and restore the plant food properties.
The implements used in preparing the seed bed depends largely on
the weather conditions. If the ground has become packed, use a disc
harrow, then, if dry and cloddy, a drag or roller should be used,
followed by a section harrow. Sometimes two or three harrowings are
necessary, and if weather conditions indicate dry weather, I run a light
drag before the planter, if not I plant after the harrow. I never
prefer working down early plowed ground, because it becomes more
or less compact and requires more work to make a good seed bed.
I plant my corn with a "Black Hawk" corn planter (the drill
type), using furrowing shovels or eveners to regulate the depth of the
corn, and by using good seed corn I am almost sure of a good stand
If it comes a heavy rain immediately after planting, I use a section
harrow before the corn comes up; this breaks the crust, and thus
prevents the tender corn from crooking and losing most of its vitality.
After the corn has all come up in good shape, and the weather is dry,
I start the roller, which pulverizes all remaining clods, then a section
harrow is used, which leaves the ground in a very fine condition.
If possible I like for my corn to be three or four inches high for
the first cultivation, at which time I cultivate about four inches deep and
as close as possible. This stirs the soil well around the corn-roots and
starts it to growing. I use a six-shovel cultivator for all the cultiva-
tions excepting the last, for which time I prefer the disc cultivator. I
consider this implement the best for the last cultivation.
I set the disc next to the corn very shallow and far enough apart
to plow all of the middle. By cultivating about two inches deep, this
method will make a nice, loose mulch of soil for the corn-roots to get their
I cultivate as many times as the corn will permit the use of a
cultivator, then if the weather is dry I use a one-horse harrow to keep
up the action of the moisture.
If the farmers of this country would be more careful in selecting
their seed corn the yield would be much better.
A. H. MYERS.
CORN LETTERS FROM THIRTY FARMERS 147
Arthur, Illinois, April 15th, 1913.
Mr. W. T. Ainsworth, Mason City, Illinois.
Dear Sir: The farm I am farming is gently rolling, and the soil
is a brown silt loam. I have obtained the best results by plowing sods
in the fall, but when corn follows corn I have found, from experience,
that the biggest crops can be raised from spring plowing.
I am firmly convinced that the burning of stalks is a bad practice,
since it robs the land of nitrogen and humus. Before plowing, I
double disc all the stalkfields, with a Janesville spading disc. I plow
from six to seven inches deep, and the early plowed ground is allowed
to stand until after heavy rains, before any further work is done to it.
For the later plowed ground, I use a rotary harrow on the plow. This
pulverizes the soil and levels it up as it is plowed. Each day's plowing
is again harrowed down in the evening, when it is allowed to stand
until nearly planting time.
After the corn is planted, it is rolled and harrowed and left until
the plants are about four inches tall, when it is cultivated about four
inches deep with a shovel plow. For the next two or three plowings
I use a surface cultivator and get over my corn as many times as I
possibly can. I lay my corn by when it is from three to four feet
tall. In closing I want to say that I consider the spading disc one of
the best implements on the farm. LEWIS D. YUTZY.
Mr. Yutzy is a stock raiser, as well as a farmer.
Laurel, Iowa, April 10th, 1913.
Messrs. W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: The nature of my soil is a black loam with clay sub-
soil, nothing better for the growing of corn. I do not like fall plowing
for stalk ground, since the winter and spring rains pack it so badly
that it requires more work to get it in shape in the spring than it does
when the plowing is allowed to go until spring. I believe that spring
plowing of stalk ground will bring larger yields than will fall plowing.
I break the stalks down, rake them up and burn them. I next run
a good sharp disc diagonally across the field and harrow. This leaves
the ground level, makes the plowing easier and leaves the field in much
better shape than where the discing is not done before plowing.
I harrow each evening what I plow during the day. When I get
ready to plant I harrow the field once or twice, according to the shape
148 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
the ground is in. I run the disc directly ahead of the planter. With
an average season this method gives me a good seed bed.
I plant three feet eight inches by three feet six inches, and drop
three grains to the hill. The corn is planted deep enough to place it
in moist ground. I harrow as soon as the corn is planted and again
after it is about through the ground. I seldom harrow corn after it is
all up, since a number of hills are broken off and otherwise injured.
I use a surface cultivator altogether and use the drags or floats the
first time over. I cultivate from four to five times, depending on the
condition of the soil. I consider the surface cultivator the best. It
holds the moisture better and if it is properly set it will move every
inch of the surface soil. I plow my corn until it is so tall that I
cannot get through the field without injuring it.
Yours for success, C. C. PAUL.
Mr. Paul is a grower of pure bred Chester White Hogs.
Pimento, Indiana, April llth, 1913.
Mr. W. T. Ainsworth, Mason City, Illinois.
Dear Sir: Our land is a heavy, cold clay and very level. We
always plow the stalks under in the spring, since it makes the ground
looser, adds fertility and makes the crop more easily tended. The
ground is broken six to seven inches deep. Our method of working the
ground depends entirely on the season. On dry, cloddy ground we use
a wood drag, on nice loose soil, a harrow, and on sod, a disc harrow.
We get our ground level and smooth before planting, and plant
from two to two and one-half inches deep. If the weather is dry, we
harrow before the corn comes up. If it is wet we leave the field alone
until we can plow the corn, which is done as soon as it is possible to
plow and not cover the hills. We cultivate from two to three inches
deep straight through the season. We use disc cultivators altogether,
and consider them the best in our soil. We cultivate three to four
times, and stay with it until the corn is too tall to plow with cultivators.
E, F. D. No. 1. GEOBGE M. CUTINGEE.
Girard, Pa., April 28th, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: In. answer to yours of recent date, as to culture of corn
will say that for corn I prefer a one-year-old clover sod which has been
manured the previous winter and plowed as early as possible after oats
CORN LETTERS FROM THIRTY FARMERS 149
seeding. The ground should be plowed to a depth of about six inches,
rolling down every evening what has been plowed that day and follow-
ing up with a spring-tooth harrow or disc pulverizer. The field should
be gone over with these implements until a perfect seed bed is obtained.
I use a light roller immediately before planting and follow with a
two-horse planter with an open wheel planting about twelve inches for
silo and sixteen inches for husking.
The third day after planting I use a smoothing harrow with teeth
set slanting and go over the field again about the sixth or seventh day
after the corn has the second leaf. Next I use a flat-tooth round point
weeder, going over the field about twice or until the corn is large enough
to use a two-horse cultivator with shields to keep dirt from rolling on
the corn. I follow the first plowing with the weeder, running cross-
ways, after which I cultivate about three times more during season with
the shields removed from the cultivator. The first cultivation may be
about three inches deep, after that from one and a half to two inches
is deep enough. I also use from two to three hundred pounds of
fertilizer analyzing about 1 8 4. We harvest with a corn binder
previous to silo filling, leaving it lay as the machine drops it for two
days. If it is husked it is set up in shocks a second or third day
after it is cut. In our latitude we like to plant between the twentieth
of May and the first of June, if corn is put into the silo.
Yours truly, JOHN A. BAUSCH.
Mr. Bausch makes a speciality of selling butter, eggs and pork
direct to the consumer.
Greenfork, Indiana, April 15th, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Dear Sirs: In this community most of the land is a white and red
clay, except where the ravines course along, but there is a good deal
of black ground, too. The land lays practically level, although nearer
the river it is a little rolling.
I do not plow my stalk ground at all in the fall and do not want
much for spring plowing if it can be helped. With the exception of
new land we follow mostly a rotation of corn, wheat and clover. I like
to plow my ground five to six inches deep. If I had the machinery
I would always cut the cornstalks and plow them under, because I
believe it would loosen and enrich the land; as it is I find it necessary
150 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
to burn them. I use the spring-tooth harrow on sod ground for the
first harrowing, then follow with spike-tooth harrow until I get the
ground in condition to plant corn.
The corn is planted two to three inches deep. I like the idea of
harrowing the corn before it comes up, but I could never get accustomed
to harrowing after it has once come up. The harrow teeth drag out
too many hills of corn.
I don't think it practical to plow very deep for the first cultiva-
tion. By the way, I do not think much of deep cultivation at any
time. I like the shovel cultivator the best of any I have ever tried.
I always plow my corn at least three times and a fourth cultiva-
tion is very good if one has the time. Most of the corn in this com-
munity is fed to hogs with the result that the land is getting more
fertile each year.
I shall be very glad to get your book on corn culture.
Yours truly, .
HEEBEET H. HOWAED.
Oblong, Illinois, April 15th, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: As I have received a request to give my experience
in growing corn, I will endeavor to answer as best I can.
Soil: The soil I am farming at the present time is of the heavy
kind, such as is most of the land in this section that was timbered
with water oak hickory and white oak.
I am located in St. Marie Township, Jasper County, east of St.
Marie, near the east line. This land is level and not the best for wet
I do all my plowing in the spring, since fall plowing will pack too
much and the weeds would start before time to plant. Spring plowing
is always best for my kind of soil, since it should be dry and not
have too much rain after plowing. I plow my ground about four to
six inches deep and aim to leave some of the top soil undisturbed.
Following corn I always use a stalk cutter and cut the stalks so that
they do not interfere with cultivation. Plowing stalks under helps keep
the ground loose below and gives it air. To work ground down I use
whatever is required to get it in shape and do good work. On ground
that is rough and uneven I use a drag to level, followed always with
a harrow, since otherwise it will get weedy before the corn is big
CORN LETTERS FROM THIRTY FARMERS 151
enough to cultivate. I always work ground just before planting, so
that it will be clean and let the corn get ahead of the weeds. I gen-
erally plant corn twenty inches apart in the row, and the rows are
forty-two inches apart. I drill corn because we plow in lands that con-
tain from eight to ten rows. I harrow corn "before it comes up : in
case the planting was done in rough and cloddy ground, I harrow corn
after it is up, unless it is big enough to cultivate before I can use
the harrow. I want corn to be about three or three and one-half inches
high before I cultivate the first time, as I want to plow close and deep
and cover all little weeds and put just a little dirt around the corn
I plow about three inches deep and set fenders as high as possible, to
allow some of the dirt to drop around the corn plants.
When laying corn by I plow deep enough to turn over and clean
the row, but I stay away from the corn and take the middle alt out.
I use shovel and disc plows. I always use shovels for first plowing.
The disc leaves too much ground undisturbed and the weeds grow
more quickly in the row than where plowed with shovels. I consider
shovels and discs best for this soil, since surface cultivation leaves the
ground too hard after a heavy rain. I try to cultivate my corn three
or four times and do if I am not delayed by rain or other work. In
laying corn by I have no set height or time, but plow when the ground
is in good mellow condition. I often plow my corn the last time
when it is three and four feet high. If I am delayed by some cause
or other I have laid corn by, with good results, when it was tasseling
out. CHAS. J. KEENBE.
St. Croix, Indiana, April 28th, 1913.
Messrs. W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: My farm is located in Southern Indiana in the north-
eastern part of Perry County. Our land is a light clay loam soil and
inclined to be rolling while some is level; too level. I never follow
corn with corn, nor can anyone here and make farming pay.
I bought my farm about twenty-five years ago. At the time I bought
it, it was considered a run-down farm and would not grow ten bushels
of corn per acre. Today I have no trouble in growing fifty to sixty
bushels per acre. I have brought this farm to its present state of
fertility by a rotation consisting of corn one year followed by wheat,
oats or cowpeas, then with clover and pasture.
In this locality we plow early in the spring if the weather will
152 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
permit, which is very seldom. It is not advisable to plow our hilly
ground in the fall, since it would wash too badly during the winter and
early spring. I think corn land should be plowed from six to nine
inches deep, since it holds the moisture better than shallow plowed
land. I usually cut the corn up and feed the fodder, but if I have
any stalks left I cut them up and turn them under.
My corn ground is usually a sod clover or pasture land. After
breaking I drag, then disc, drag again and harrow. The early plowed
fields are not usually worked down until nearly planting time, but the.
late plowed fields should be worked down as soon as they are plowed
to keep the ground from becoming cloddy and to retain the moisture.
I like to plant corn between the first and tenth of May, but of late
years spring rains have delayed planting until later. I plant with a
two-row corn planter, using commercial fertilizer at the rate of one
hundred pounds to the acre. Cultivation should begin as soon as
possible after the corn is up, and I like to harrow before the corn is
up, but if it rains after it is planted it is generally up before the
ground is dry enough to justify getting on with the harrow. As soon
as the corn is up I go over it with the harrow once and sometimes
twice. When the corn is about three inches high I commence cultivat-
ing with a two-horse cultivator. I plow deep the first and second times
over; setting the cultivator so that it will not throw much dirt to the
corn. The later cultivations are shallow. I always follow the cultivator
with a one-horse harrow which runs between the rows, here we use the
shovels since the disc leaves too uneven a surface. I always try to
leave the surface level after each cultivation. I cultivate from four to
six times, or as often as the weather will permit. T. B. LYONS.
Buckley, Illinois, April 9th, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: In answer to your letter of the 8th inst., I will give
you my method of preparing ground for corn. For several years past
I have been sowing from forty to eighty acres with clover in oats. I
let the clover stand until the second year to enable it to make the
necessary root growth from which a large part of the benefit to the
soil is obtained. If there is not much seed in the second crop of clover,
I plow it under to enrich the land. I prefer fall plowing of clover
sod in preference to waiting until after oats sowing is over. In the
spring I go over the fall plowed ground with a disc, cutting full depth.
CORN LETTERS FROM THIRTY FARMERS 153
This loosens and mellows the soil besides letting in warmth. It will
also start the first crop of weeds to growing. About the tenth of
May I go over the ground again with the disc and kill all these
sprouted weeds. I now give the field one or two good harrowings and
plant. The corn is always harrowed again before it is up. In pre-
paring stalk ground I prefer to plow it in the fall, but one seldom
gets this chance. By all means leave the stalks to be plowed under.
Why? Because anything that will decay in the soil makes humus and
humus is what we need to keep our soil loose and mellow. My method
of getting rid of the stalks is to go over the ground both ways
with a disc. This cuts the stalks up and also makes a mulch of loose
soil to have on the underside of your furrow slice. Disc your soil
again after the plow before the clods have time to dry and you will
have no clods, since the furrow slice has been completely pulvemed.
For spring plowing I think four inches is deep enough, but for fall
plowing seven or eight inches is better.
Our soil is level, black loam and comparatively heavy. My aim
is to have a carload of cattle to sell every year and thus with their
help I improve instead of impoverishing the soil.
Yours truly, CHARLES HOLZ.
Rushville, Illinois, April 10th, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: Replying to your request for our methods of corn
growing, I must suggest that what I can say will be of little interest
and small value. I devote my best thought to apple growing.
Where corn follows corn, we cut the stalks up fine with a sharp
disc and thoroughly harrow down the land, then plow about six to
eight inches deep. We then harrow the land, furrow off three and
one-half feet wide with large shovel plows, and drill eighteen to
twenty inches apart in row.
Our lands are both black, loam bottom and loose formation upland.
I never plant two successive crops of corn on upland, and very rarely
on bottom-land. I use similar methods in preparing the ground on all
We never plow stalk land in fall as the crop is not removed in time.
I believe stalks should never be burned as they do not interfere
with cultivation, when properly cut up, and on upland they help to
prevent the land from washing and also return some fertility to the
154 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
soil. If the corn is infested with insects or with fungous disease, I
burn the stalks.
We harrow down after plowing and if the land becomes hard
we disc and harrow before planting. This method eliminates clods.
If we use barnyard manure we spread late in the winter or early in
the spring and plow it under.
I strongly advise the rotation of crops as the best method of re-
turning the fertility and destroying insects and diseases.
Cultivation: I generally harrow when the corn is up three or four
days if the ground is in proper condition. I believe corn should be
cultivated as small as possible and frequently. The first cultivation
generally is shallow to avoid throwing much dirt on the small corn.
For biggest yields, corn should be plowed every five to eight days. I
run inside shovels shallow when laying by, but turn outside ones in,
thereby throwing dirt strongly to corn. Either class of cultivation is
equally good if properly used. Have had better results laying corn
by with ten-inch diamond plow, but it leaves the land rough. I disc
clover land before plowing and believe all lands should be disced before
plowing. We have obtained good results when we cut corn by sowing
thickly in wheat or rye and pasture during the winter with horses,
cows and pigs, then in the spring disc and plow. Have grown fine
crops on small lots treated thus. I sometimes turn hogs in a field in
August and believe fertility can be longer maintained by this method
than by any other. B. F. STUAET.
The growing of apples is Mr. Stuart's specialty.
Eddyville, Iowa, April 10th, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: In answer to your letter of recent date I will give you
my methods of growing corn. These methods, I believe, are the best
for southern Iowa.
Our soil is a light, black loam, underlaid with a porous yellow
clay subsoil. Being a warm, well drained soil, it is adapted to the
growing of varieties as late in maturing as one hundred and ten days.
We prefer plowing stalk ground in the spring, in order to get the
benefit of the stalk pasture, although we consider fall plowing is
better, since the ground works up better, which, of course, means
better yields. In the spring we get in the fields as soon as it is fit.
The ground is disced before plowing. This forms a dust mulch, and
CORN LETTERS FROM THIRTY FARMERS 155
when the furrow slice is turned over, capillarity, which was destroyed
when the furrow was turned, is quickly re-established, since the dirt
on the sub-surface is pulverized and not cloddy. As soon as the ground
is plowed it is harrowed. This forms a dust mulch, and prevents the
moisture in the ground from escaping. We harrow the plowed ground
after each rain, as soon as it will do to get in the fields. By doing
this the moisture is conserved, and no crust is allowed to form up
to planting time.
Our spring plowing is from six to eight inches deep. We plow
ten inches deep in the fall, and aim to turn all our new ground at this
season of the year. Freezing and thawing during the winter months,
followed by early spring discing, puts this deep plowing in ideal shape.
We are cranks on conserving moisture and our efforts along these
lines bring us big returns in the fall when we husk our corn. Gentle-
men, the farmer can not take too much time in the preparation of the
seed bed for corn. Of all the grain crops grown, corn is the one that
responds the quickest to thorough preparation before putting the seed
in the ground. We believe that a forty-acre field, properly prepared,
will grow as many bushels as eight acres plowed only three or four
inches deep, and left to dry out until planting time. Practice thorough
cultivation and plant pure bred seed corn, and you will be well paid for
your time and money spent.
As soon as the seed bed is as good as we can make it, we start
planting. We check three feet six inches each way, and plant from
one to one and one-half inches deep. The field is harrowed as soon as
planted in order to kill the small weeds and sprouted weed seeds. We
do not feel justified in harrowing after the corn is up, since the harrow
teeth break off and cover too many hills. Since we only plant two
kernels to the hill, it is necessary that they should all grow.
We start cultivating rather deep when the corn is from four to six
inches high, and make every effort to kill all the weeds at this plow-
ing. The second cultivation is not so deep, since by this time the
corn-root system has extended in all directions.
When we ' ' lay the corn by " we throw up a small ridge, but are
very careful not to cut many roots. During the first three cultiva-
tions we use four-shovel plows. For a fourth cultivation we use an
old mower wheel and run it between the rows. This conserves the
moisture, and helps in getting a larger yield.
We think the shovel cultivators are the best all-around cultivators
you can get. At the same time surface cultivators are coming into
156 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
use more each year, and on level ground they do fine work, but I
believe I can do as good a job with a four or six-shovel cultivator.
In my opinion the shovel plow stirs the ground better than the surface
We lay our corn by when it is about waist high.
Every Corn Belt farmer should practice thorough preparation of
the seed bed, should give his corn careful and frequent cultivatings,
and above all else, plant strong, vigorous, pure bred seed.
Yours very truly,
HENRY J. LANGSTEAAT & SONS.
Growers of Reid's Yellow Dent and Johnson County White corn,
and Swedish Select and Silvermine oats.
Delaplaine, Ark., April 12th, 1913.
Mr. W. T. Ainsworth, Mason City, Illinois.
Dear Sir: The nature of our soil is a deep sandy loam and is very
level. I always plow my stalk ground in the spring, although fall
plowing might be better. The plowing is done from six to eight
inches in depth and the stalks are cut and turned under. I work my
ground down as soon as it is plowed and harrow at frequent intervals
until time to plant.
The common method of planting in this country is with a single-row
drill, but of late years I have planted by hand and checked the rows.
I harrow the corn after it is about three inches high and cultivate four
or five times. It is laid by when six or seven feet tall.
Our corn makes from forty to eighty bushels per acre, depending
on the season and the care the crop has received. I shall be very
glad to receive your corn book. Yours truly,
G. W. CLAYTON.
Hughesville, Mo., April llth, 1913.
Messrs. W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Dear Sirs: I am writing you to answer your questions in regard
to my method of preparing the seed bed and cultivating the corn crop.
Although I have a black, heavy rolling soil, I would rather have
the stalks plowed under in the fall or winter, if it is possible to get
the plow in the field. If the plowing is done in the spring, it should
CORN LETTERS FROM THIRTY FARMERS 157
be as deep as six or eight inches and started as soon as the frost is
out of the ground, provided the ground is dry enough.
I consider it a bad mistake to burn stalks. They^ should be cut with
a disc harrow and plowed under to root and help hold the moisture.
If the ground is well disced before plowing in the early spring it
should not be harrowed or worked down before time to plant.
' PLANTING AND CULTIVATION
If the ground has been plowed in the fall or early spring and has
settled or run together into a hard compact mass, it should be double
disced. By this I mean the disc should be lapped half each time.
This method does away with the furrow or ridge and leaves the ground
level. I finish up by using a smoothing harrow. I precede the planter
with the furrowing machine.
This machine consists of two fourteen-inch single shovel plows,
set the same distance apart as the width of my two-row planter runners.
The planter follows and runs in the middle and bottom of the furrows.
By using this machine my corn is planted in furrows. I run the disc,
smoothing harrow, and furrowing machine all the same way, so that
one implement does not have to finish its work before the other is
The planter should not start until the furrow has dried enough so
that the fresh dirt in the bottom of the furrow will not stick to the
runners or planter wheels, but will have a dust mulch over the corn
rows. I use good seed and get a good stand, unless the fields are
flooded with heavy rains before the corn gets well sprouted.
As soon as the corn is up enough to insure a good stand, I start a
light smoothing harrow, and if the weather is favorable I harrow two
or three times before starting to cultivate. If the season is wet I do
not use the harrow, but start cultivating as soon as the corn is up well
enough to see each hill down the row. I start with a six-shovel cul-
tivator and plow as deep as the shovels will reach, which is about four
I plow my corn as many times as I can before it gets big enough
to bend under the cultivator arch. The last plowing should not cut
many roots; at the same time it should be deep enough to make the
shovels throw the dirt well up around the butts of the stalks.
S. E. HAEVEY.
158 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
Jacob, Illinois, July 30th, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Dear Sirs: The soil on our farm is level and light. I plow the
stalk ground in the fall. I think that is the best time for the land
and gives the biggest crop. The stalks are cut and turned under
when corn follows corn. I believe it is better for the land and adds
nitrogen to the soil. In working the ground down after plowing, I
use the drag and harrow. The early plowed fields are harrowed down
when first plowed.
In planting the corn I check in hills with two or three grains to a
hill, and harrow before it comes up; also harrow after it come up.
When the corn is about four inches tall, I bar it and after a few days
go over it again, throwing the dirt back. I cultivate about four inches
the first time over and plow shallow enough to get the dirt when I
lay by. My cultivators are discs. These I consider the best. I cul-
tivate about four times. The corn is about sixty inches high when it
is layed by. Eespectfully yours,
JOHN W. CUPP.
Green Valley, Illinois, April 20th, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Dear Sirs: I am writing this letter to answer your questions in
regard to preparing the seed bed for corn. I have sandy loam, clay
and heavy black loam. These three kinds of soils all require different
Since the stalks contain a large amount of humus and some
nitrogen, I cut them and turn them under on all the light soil. On
the heavy soil I burn them, since they grow so rank that they would
bother during the later cultivating. This heavy soil does not need the
humus in the stalks so badly, although they would undoubtedly help
A good plan is to cut the stalks and break the ground deep in
the fall, but since I am a stock farmer and need the stalk fields, I do
most of my plowing in the spring.
I plow from five to seven inches deep, depending on the nature of
the soil. In working the seed bed I depend mostly on the harrow,
although I find, at times, it is an advantage to use the disc harrow
and the Bailey and Nichols clod crusher. This is different from
others, as it acts as a harrow and packs and breaks up the clods.
CORN LETTERS FROM THIRTY FARMERS 159
Unless the season is very wet, I harrow down the early plowed fields,
and do not allow them to stand until time to plant the corn.
I use a check-rower planter and plant three feet four inches each
way, and two grains in a hill. I do not harrow corn before it comes
up, unless I think it will get weedy. I harrow the corn after it is up
and a good size. I let the corn get a good height before plowing the
first time. This enables me to plow close to it, and the first plowing is
what counts. I plow rather deep the first time over, but when 1
lay it by I plow as shallow as I can and kill the weeds.
I use six-shovel riding cultivators, and twelve shovels on the two-row
cultivators. I prefer the two-row cultivators, if I have large fields with
no point rows. My sons all use two-row cultivators, and do as good
a job with them as they could with the single row. Those who have
never used a two-row cultivator will perhaps doubt the statement
until they have tried them for themselves. I cultivate as many times
as I can; three or more. I lay my corn by as tall as I can without
breaking it down.
Hoping I have answered your questions, I remain
W. L. WOODEOW.
Mr. Woodrow is a breeder of full-blooded Percheron horses.
Bolivar, Missouri, April 24th, 1913.
Messrs. W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Dear Sirs: Our soil is not the most fertile soil in the world,
but at the same time good management and a careful rotation of
crops will bring good yields.
I usually grow corn on ground that was in wheat the year previous.
I plow the wheat stubble deep, (six to ten inches), in. the fall and
winter when the weather is cool. I then leave the ground until plant-
ing time. In preparing my ground for planting I double disc with a
sharp disc and harrow the ground at least twice with a spike-tooth
harrow. I never drag my fields, since a big rain will cause the weeds
to grow too quickly. I use a John Deere planter, and drop alternately
two and three grains to the hill. I apply one hundred and twenty-
five pounds of bone and potash fertilizer with a fertiliser attachment
on the planter.
160 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
The corn is harrowed once or twice before it comes up. I plow
my corn at least four times with four and six-shovel plows. The last
cultivating is given the corn when it begins to tassel. About silking
time I plow between the rows with a five shovel, one-horse cultivator.
When it is necessary to plow in the spring, where corn follows corn, I
prefer to plow as early as possible, since early plowing is not affected
so much by a dry spell in July and August. I never, under any cir-
cumstances, burn any stalks. This is a ruinous practice with us, and
I believe will do more harm than good in any country.
Yours truly, JOHN L. NOVAK.
Mr. Novak is a breeder of Poland China Hogs.
Senath, Missouri, April 25th, 1913.
Mr. W. T. Ainsworth, Mason City, Illinois.
Dear Sir: In reply to your letter of the 8th, I will say that
I just haven't had time to spare to write you in regard to my method
of preparing the seed bed and growing corn.
To begin with, the soil here is a light level soil. We plow our stalk
ground mostly in the spring, as we sow peas in the cornfield at laying
by time. I think it best for the land and also for the following crop
to plow in the fall, but because of the fact that I depend on stalk
fields for pasture until winter or early spring, it is impossible for me
to plow in the fall. I plow my land from seven to eight inches deep
and I think that is deep enough for this land. I cut my stalks and
plow them under because that and the cowpeas are all that we have
to keep our land up. The first thing I do in the spring is to cut the
stalks and disc the rows down; then I turn and cross disc again before
plowing. If I plant at once I run a three-horse section harrow and
plant, but if the ground is not planted at once I don't harrow, since
the winds will blow it so bad. If the ground is allowed to lay for
some time before planting, I double disc to kill the weeds and harrow
with a drag harrow before planting. I plant with a two-row drill,
three and one-half feet apart, and set to drill the two rows from
twenty to thirty inches apart, owing to the richness of the soil. 1
used to plant thick, and later thin out every other stalk, but I have
quit this because I can't do all the work myself, and if one plants
too thick he generally does not thin enough. Of late years I have
planted for a stand, and I usually get plenty of corn, in fact, if you
get your land in good condition for the seed, there's no likelihood of
CORN LETTERS FROM THIRTY FARMERS 161
getting a bad stand. I think the majority of us, in southeast Missouri,
get in too big a rush and don't get the land in proper shape for
planting and plant before the ground gets warm. I think, as a rule,
the last of April and first of May is early enough to plant corn.
If I can possibly get the time I run the harrow over the land before
the corn comes up, and as soon as it gets high enough so that I can
plow with the cultivator and fenders on, I begin plowing the first time.
The first time over I plow about five inches deep and try to get
shallower every time till I lay it by. The last cultivation is with a
disc run very shallow. I do most of my cultivating with small shovels
and I really think they are best. I begin, as I said before, as soon
as the corn will permit and cultivate every week until it is too tall
to plow. I average plowing from six to eight times with the cultivator
and generally lay by when the corn is four to five feet high. I don't
use any special implement, since I don't go over the corn after laying
it by, because I sow peas and soy beans in the cornfield. These
nitrogen crops pay in more ways than one. First, the land gets the
benefit of the roots, and second, it helps to keep up moisture. It
also keeps the weeds down and the pasture is worth just about as
much as the corn crop.
Now some would think that we ought to sow more of our land
down, but the most of this land is too sandy to grow clover or similar
legumes. For this reason we cannot practice a rotation of crops like
is done further north. I remain
Yours truly, E. B. WALLACE.
Mr. Wallace makes a specialty of the growing of pure bred O. I. C.
Hartville, Missouri, May 2nd, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Dear Sirs: In regard to corn growing I will write you to the
best of my knowledge.
In preparing my seed bed for corn I turn with a breaking plow, then
drag and follow with a disc harrow, then drag again. Before starting
to plant I plow out furrows, three feet eight inches apart, with a cul-
NOTE: The writers of this book have three hundred and sixty acres
of land in northeast Arkansas. Our farms are about fifteen miles from Mr.
Wallace's and the soil is very similar to his. Mr. Wallace tells a big truth
when he states that cowpeas or soy beans should be planted between the rows
of corn. We furnish soy bean seed to our tenants on these farms to encourage
them in the growing of this legume.
162 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
tivator. In these furrows I plant the corn. I sometimes cultivate the
corn before it conies up with disc cultivator by throwing the dirt from
the corn, then let it come up and get three or four blades on it,
then follow with a shovel cultivator. I cultivate two or three times,
then for the last plowing I use disc cultivators, set to throw the dirt
to the corn. After this last plowing I leave the field until time to
harvest the crop.
Our soil is heavy and level. I plow the stalk ground in the spring.
The ground should be plowed five to seven inches deep, owing to the
soil, and the stalks should be turned under because it adds humus to
the ground. I use drags and disc harrows to work the ground down
after plowing. I let the early plowed fields stand until I am ready
to plant before harrowing down. Sometimes I harrow before the corn
comes up. In dry weather I harrow and roll after the corn comes up
and the first time it is cultivated I plow from four to six inches deep.
When I lay by I plow from two to three inches deep.
Yours respectfully, MAEK MITCHELL.
Xenia, Ohio, April 14th, 1913.
Messrs. W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: Our ground is a rather heavy clay soil, with spots of
black ground scattered around over every field on the farm. It is
level, and not being underlaid with sand or gravel, most of it needs
tile. We have considerable tile laid, but there are several places where
more would be of benefit.
While we have never tried plowing for corn in the fall, I believe
a heavy sod that is not rolling enough to wash, would do better than
if plowed in the spring. One of our neighbors tried this, and was
very successful. Where the ground is exposed in this way throughout
the winter, some of the fertility may escape, but I do not believe there
would be enough to offset the advantage to be gained by the conserva-
tion of moisture, especially if the season was dry. Then, too, the sod
has a chance to rot and is ready for the corn as soon as it begins to
grow. We try to get our sod plowed as early in the spring as pos-
sible, and I think we shall experiment some with fall plowing, since that
is the only way to find out anything.
We prefer to have the ground plowed seven or eight inches deep
and not worked when it is too wet. We do not aim to follow corn
with corn, but when it can't be very well helped, we burn the stalks
CORN LETTERS FROM THIRTY FARMERS 163
as we have no cutter. The stalk ground is always plowed last, for the
reason that it does not get tough like sod, and usually does not get dry
so early in the season.
We use a common spike-tooth harrow and drag made of four-by-four 'a
set on edge. These are started just as soon as the ground has been
plowed. If it is pretty well beaten down by rain, a spring-tooth harrow
is about the best thing to loosen it with; then follow with the spike-
tooth to level the ground. I never put any work on early plowed ground
until I am ready to plant, and then I keep the planter as close behind
the harrow as possible.
We find that a good clover sod with hogs fed on it, and manure
scattered over it will come as near raising one hundred bushels of
corn to the acre in any kind of weather as anything we have ever tried.
W. H. MORGAN.
Stanberry, Missouri, May 2nd, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Dear Sirs: The soil in the northwest part of Gentry County is a
light, black loam and is somewhat rolling.
In regard to the time of year to plow I will say that I prefer fall
plowing when it can be done. In the first place it is done at a slack
time of the year and can be put in good shape for planting in the
spring with very little work. Again, it holds the moisture better than
spring plowed ground. If I plow in the spring I like to double disc
the ground. This will answer for a stalk cutter and at the same time
pulverize the soil on top which makes it much easier to plow and makes
a good loose bed for the corn. I use a disc frequently and consider
it one of the most useful pieces of machinery on the farm as it can
be used for so many different purposes.
A great many people rake up the corn stalks and burn them. I do
not think this should ever be done. Corn stalks should always be
plowed under and all other manure that can be obtained. The stalks
when plowed under will help to keep the ground loose.
After giving the ground a good double discing with a good sharp
disc I go to it with a gang plow. A harrow should always follow
the plow. The ground should not lay long, especially if very dry,
as it will not pulverize readily when allowed to get too dry after plow-
ing. The harrow also levels the ground making a loose bed on top
to hold the moisture. When ground is plowed early it should be har-
164 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE
rowed and disced just before planting, in that way will kill all weeds
that have started and this gives the corn an even start with the weeds.
I use a check-rower planter fitted with furrow openers. These
throw out a furrow in which the corn is planted. The use of the
furrow openers insures an even depth of planting, kills all weed
sprouts in the row and makes it possible to harrow the corn twice after
it is up without doing it any injury.
As soon as the corn is tall enough to plow I start plowing and try
to plow after every rain if possible to prevent the loss of moisture.
I use six and eight-shovel cultivators in preference to the four shovels.
I generally plow my corn about four times. I believe that a one-
horse harrow plow run between the rows after it is too large to straddle
would increase the yield from three to ten bushels.
Very truly yours,
S. W. McPHEBSON.
Minier, Illinois, April 12th, 1913.
Mr. W. T. Ainsworth, Mason City, Illinois.
Dear Sir: A few lines in regard to the preparation of the seed
bed for corn.
Our soil is black and heavy, practically level, although rolling
enough for good drainage. Our stalk ground is practically all plowed
in the spring, once in a while we plow some in the fall, if circum-
stances allow it. We would prefer fall plowing, and think it by far
the best, on an average, for either land or yield.
We prefer deep plowing, especially in the fall; seven or eight inches
on old ground, once in a while, is not too deep. Five inches in sod
is deep enough.
We have discarded altogether the raking and V.irmng of stalks.
We always double disc them with a good sharp di^-c.
After plowing we aim to make a dust mulch as much as possible
by discing, spading and harrowing, also a roller or en sher is very good.
In order to get this mulch we begin harrowing rigat after the plow,
which we find gives the best results. After we have a good seed bed,
the planter follows and is checked three by six inches, or three by
four inches, except what we put up for ensilage, which is drilled thick,
so as to make good ensilage, as the lighter the stalk the better ensilage.
After the corn is planted three or four days, or later, it is har-
rowed. Corn may be harrowed after it is up, provided the ground is
CORN LETTERS FROM THIRTY FARMERS 165
in good shape, which will leave the field in nice clean shape when
the cultivator is started. The cultivator is started when the corn is
three or four inches tall, and plowed four inches deep, on an average,
for the first time. The last time over we spread the gangs, and do not
plow so deep for fear of pulling up thousands of little roots, whieh
would injure the corn.
We have never used discs or surface cultivators. Six-shovel plows
are all we use; however, we think the surface plows and discs are good.
My corn is plowed three times at least, and five times would be
better. The corn is layed by when about two and one-half to four
feet tall. Yours truly, C. C. S.
Prop, of Fair View Farm, Minier, Illinois.
Piper City, Illinois, April 11, 1913.
W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: In answer to your letter I will say that my soil is a
dark sandy loam and very level. My rotation is corn, oats and clover.
I try to have an equal amount in corn and oats.
I plow my ground in the fall about seven inches deep and let it
stand until spring. Before planting I usually disc twice and drag.
I plant deep then drag again. I also run the drag over the field before
the corn comes up.
If I break stalk ground I disc before and after plowing.
The first cultivation I give the corn is with a six-shovel plow. This
cultivation is about four inches deep. I lay the corn by with a surface
cultivator and plow deep enough to have considerable loose dirt run
over the blades.
Hoping this will be satisfactory, I remain,
JAMES T. SULLIVAN.
Delavan, Illinois, April 15th, 1913.
Messrs. W. T. Ainsworth & Sons, Mason City, Illinois.
Gentlemen: Our land lies in Logan and Tazewell counties, Illinois,
and ranges from a heavy black loam to a rather light sandy loam.
On all the farms I insist, wherever possible, that the corn stalks shall
be cut and plowed under, not for immediate results, but for what
I am sure will be permanent benefits.
The corn cultivation is usually begun as soon as the corn rows
can be followed: I prefer quite deep cultivation the first time over,
growing shallower and further from the row as the corn roots spread.
We use nearly altogether the shovel cultivators, but I am quite certain
the surface cultivators for the third and (if any) succeeding cultiva-
tions, would be better than shovels.
Owing to the pressure of other work ve rarely cultivate more than
three times, as the corn gets too big for later plowings.
I am firmly convinced that we could increase the yield five to ten
bushels per acre by breaking the crust between rows after the coin
is too big to cultivate otherwise.
Yours truly, W. .
W.T. AIN SWORTH
MASON CITY, ILLINOIS
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA
PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE. WRITTEN ESPECIAL