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A 5 




Notice the shallow furrows made by the furrow openers attached to the 
planter runners 






Written especially for the 




Actively Engaged in Farming for Forty Years, and Still at It. 


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. ' ' 

Ex-Governor Oglesby. 




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. 


Mason City, Illinois. 
January, 1914. 




Introduction 7 

Preparing the Seed Bed 12 

Planting 29 

Cultivation 48 


The Rotation of Farm Crops 57 

Leguminous Crops 68 

Stable and Barnyard Manures 83 

Phosphorus and Limestone 90 


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 
in Europe. 

Present food prices for farm products are an incentive to 
better farming; if they continue wonderful strides should be 



made during the next ten years. We believe present 
farm prices are here to stay, unless, perchance, they go 


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. 


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 


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. 


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. 





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 




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.) 


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. 



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 
fairly level. 

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 


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.) 

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, 



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. 


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 



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 
the soil.l 

This pulverizing and aerating of the soil we consider the 
chief objects of plowing. The plow may invert the soil in 


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 


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 



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.) 

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 


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 
planting time. 

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 



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. 

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 


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. 


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 



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.) 


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, 


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 
tending season. 


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 
to work. 

In some cases it might be well to break clover sod late in 
order to enrich the land with the greater amount of nitrogen 


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. 


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. 


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 
and grubworms. 


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. 


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. 


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 



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 
lighter soil. 

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 



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 


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. 




















^ Illinois 









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 


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.) 



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 


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 
at length. 

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- 


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 



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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 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 
the seed. 

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. 



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- 
ing corn. 

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. 



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. 


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 : 




Figures indicate actual yields, bushels per acre 


between hills, 

of stalks 
per acre 












































































































Figures indicate actual yields, bushels per acre 


between hills, 

of stalks 
per acre. 

average of 
4 years. 

average of 
4 years. 


Gen. average 
for three 

























































































between hills, 

of stalks 
per acre. 

More than 
50 bushels 
per acre. 

Less than 
50 bushels 
per acre. 






























































between hills, 

of stalks 
per acre. 

Average yield 
Urbana, S'ibley, 
Mattoon fields. 

More than 50 bu. 
per acre. 

Less than 50 bu. 
per acre. 



























































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 
Leonard Hegnauer. 



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 


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. 


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.) 


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 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.) 


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 
young corn. 


There is more or less difference of opinion on this partic- 
ular point. The objections to surface cultivation, when it 


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 
same yield. 

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 


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. 



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.) 

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. 


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. 


"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. 





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 



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 
Belt farms. 

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. 


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. 


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 


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 


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 


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 
grain crops. 

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 


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 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 
next chapter.) 


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. 


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. 


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 


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. 


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. 


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), 


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. 



'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- 



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 
Sweet Clover." 


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- 


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 


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 
in oats. 

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 


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 


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 


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 


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 
all weeds. 


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- 


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 


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. 


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 



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." 


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 
of alfalfa. 


"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. 


"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 

21, 1913. 

"Alfalfa." By Peter C. Swartz. Farmers' Review. Feb. 

22, 1913. 

"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, 

October, 1913. 


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. 


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 



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.) 


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 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 


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- 


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. 


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 


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. 



'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. 



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 
any harm. 


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 


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 


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. 



"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. 




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 





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 

1234 56 


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. 



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 


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 


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. 


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 



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 score card is necessarily arbitrary and inflexible, and 
should not be followed too closely in the final judging and 


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 



The following table is the revised score card as adopted 
by the Illinois Corn Growers' Association, January 25, 1911 : 





Per cent 
of grain 
on cob 

Eeid 's Yellow Dent 

8.5 in. 

6. 5 in. 



8.5 in. 

6. 5 in. 


Boone or Johnson County White .... 
Biley 's Favorite 

8.5 in. 
8.5 in. 

6. 5 in. 
6. 5 in. 


Golden Eagle 

8.5 in. 

6.75 in. 


Silver Mine 

8.5 in. 

6. 5 in. 


Champion White Pearl 

8 in. 

6. 5 in. 


General Classes 

8.5 in. 

16. 5 in. 



Eeid 's Yellow Dent 

9 5 in. 

6.75 in. 



9.5 in 

6.75 in. 


Boone or Johnson County White. .... 

9.5 in. 

6.75 in. 


Eiley 's Favorite 

9 in. 

6.75 in. 


Golden Eagle , 

9 in. 

7 in. 


Silver Mine 

9 in. 

6.75 in. 


Champion White Pearl 

8 in. 

6.75 in. 


General Classes . 

9.5 in. 

6.75 in. 





Score of 


Length of ear 



Circumference of ear 



Color in grain and cob 



Shape of ear 



Uniformity of exhibit 



Tips of ears 



Butts of ears 



Kernel uniformity 



Kernel shape 



Space between rows 



Space between kernels at cob 



Vitality or seed condition 



Trueness to type 



Proportion of shell corn to ear 


Perfect score 




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 
the ear. 

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 
than gained. 

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. 


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. 



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. 


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. 



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 
of starting. 

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 

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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. 


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. 




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 ' 



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 


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. 


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 
corn improvement. 

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 
same results. 

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. 


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. 


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- 


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. 


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 


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 
M. Ainsworth. 


''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. 


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 
seed ears. 

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. 





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 


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. 


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 


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. 


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 


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. 


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. 


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- 
nation standard. 

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. 


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. 



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 


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. 


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. 


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.) 



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. 

March, 1913. 
"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. 


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. 


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, 
stout legs. 

The corn wireworm eats into the kernel after it has been 
softened by the moisture in the ground, and also bores into 




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- 
worm (Melano- 
tus cribulosus, ) 

The Corn Wireworm 

(Melanotus cribulosus) 


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 


house fly. Severe injuries by this insect are unusual, and 
there is no known method of preventing them. 


The Corn Root Louse (Aphis) : Every farmer has noticed 
the little blue insects clustered in great numbers on the 

Phorbia Fuseiceps 

Phorbia Fuseiceps 

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 


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 
the louse. 

Remedy: Thorough cultivation, by checking the work 
of the ants has a wonderful effect in lessening the number 


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 


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 

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. 


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 


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. 


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 



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. 


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 


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 





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. 


"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 
and summer. 

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. 



Larehland, Illinois. 
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 
inches deep. 

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 
well spent. 


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. 

Eespectfully yours, 


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 
ground loose. 

In working plowed ground down, we use the spike tooth harrow 
and disc. All ground plowed the day before is harrowed down the 
next morning. 

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, 



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. 



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, 


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 


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 

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 


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. 


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 
of corn. 

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 
nourishment from. 

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. 



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 


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. 


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 


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 


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, . 


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 


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 


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. 


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 
these soils. 

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 


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 


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 


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, 


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, 


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 


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. 


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. 



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, 


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 
the ground. 

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. 


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 
Respectfully yours, 


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. 


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 


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. 


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 


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. 


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- 


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, 


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 


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, 
Yours truly, 


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. .