The final kernels of corn on our farm went into the ground April 22. About 14 years ago, I remember we started April 23, which was very early for us at that time.
That got started me thinking about the changes in corn-growing over the years.
One of our fields is rectangle-shaped with the long rows running east and west for half a mile. My uncle liked to plant the rows the long ways because planting goes faster when the amount of time spent turning on the end is reduced.
The problem was at harvest when we had wagons at each end because the combine bin was not big enough and would be full before a complete round.
That meant the just-emptied wagon would be parked at one end and the tractor would drive across the field to the full wagon. There was a lot of driving across the field to bring in the loads.
Then when I became in charge of planting I planted the rows north and south. At harvest we would start at one end and work our way across the field to the other end, saving a lot of time for the tractor bringing in the loads.
That worked fairly well for a few years, but the combine bin would fill after about a round and half so now the combine was driving a distance to empty its bin.
Yes, I know we could have gotten a grain cart but that ties up another man, a tractor, and I didn’t like the expense.
After a few years of that, I went back to planting east and west, making those long rows. But halfway across the field I put in a headland so at harvest time it was combined one half and then the other half. That seemed to be the best solution.
That was in the days of a 12-row planter and 6-row corn head.
Today, it is a 24-row planter, with a 12-row corn head and a much bigger hopper on the combine.
Plus there are the two combines with two grain carts that empty into three semis.
No more headlands. Just back and forth from east to west and back again. The amount of time has been halved.
That is one change. I have another one from years ago.
I still have the 12-row cultivator that has not moved from its spot in the shed in at least 25 years.
I am probably one of the few people who enjoyed cultivating. It was simple work and you could measure your progress as you went across the field.
But I can’t help but think that cultivating may return as weeds get more herbicide resistant.
There may be a time in the future when a weed control program will include spraying along with cultivation. No weed will ever be resistant to mechanical control.
My cultivator is not worth much so it can sit in the shed until that time.
So there you have progress over the past 25 or so years. Who is to say that after many steps forward, it would be possible that we take a step backward and return to cultivation.
Will Palmer amaranth be the weed that is the tipping point?
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