Nebraska Couple Sold on Corn Planting Equipment

Collection of corn planting equipment shows the evolution of corn planters, check-row planters and shellers

| August 2000

One look at Darrel Heeren's collection of corn equipment, and you know he's a serious collector. But Darrel, who lives south of Hastings, Neb., delights in sharing what he refers to as "My corn-e hobby." 

"I very much enjoy showing my collection to any and all," he says, "to those who have memories of these items, and those who know nothing about them. I try hard to share what I have learned, and then I have learned more myself."

Darrel's collection illustrates the evolution of corn planting equipment, ranging from hand-operated planters dating to the mid-1800s, to horse-drawn corn planting implements. It also includes a rich assortment of shelters, feed cutters, corn shock tyers, planter lids, cast iron tool boxes, and a variety of antique tools.

His oldest hand-operated planter dates to 1858. He uses it to show people that early corn crops were planted quite differently than those of today.

"They used to plant corn in grids, in hills 46 inches apart. They'd drop three or four kernels in each hill. The cultivator was little more than a couple of shovels," he says. "The hardest thing for a lot of people to understand is that they didn't always plant corn in a row, and it wasn't always a cash crop. It used to be a subsistence crop."

Hand-operated planters were used to the 1880s, he says, with later use limited to filling in gaps.