Planting Corn: Then and Now


Well, according to the USDA Planting Report issued, May 13, 2013, the corn belt as a whole has been able to plant 28% of the planned corn acreage, with my state of Ohio at 46%. At this same time last year, 83% of Ohio’s corn was in and the corn-growing belt as a whole was at 85%, but 2012 was a year with an unusually early spring.

It seems that when I was a kid, we routinely didn’t begin planting until near the end of May. Of course we had to first plow under last year’s hayfields, then disc it a couple of times, and finally harrow it with a spike tooth before the soil was considered fit to plant corn. With a 2-bottom plow, 7-foot double disc, and a 3-section spike tooth, soil preparation took a while.

Our old No. 919 John Deere, 2-row, horse drawn corn planter didn’t put the seed in the ground very fast, either and I remember many years planting corn well into June.

To get straight, evenly spaced corn rows in those days depended upon the skill of the driver and the planter’s row markers. Those row markers! I’ve told the story of when I was just a little shaver of four or five and Dad was planting with a team, turned at the end of the field and dropped the disc row marker right on top of my head. Of course, I shouldn’t have been where I was and, although there was enough blood to make my mother faint when she saw me come screaming, there was no permanent damage except for the scar.

After the horses were sold, we shortened the tongue of the planter and pulled it with the tractor. When I was old enough to drive the tractor, Dad rode the planter and he often had to yell at me because my mind would wander from the task at hand and the tractor would wander off the mark.

After a while, a 3-point hitch was welded up for the planter and corn planting became a one-man operation. I don’t remember the row markers being used after this so by this time I guess I was old enough to make straight rows without prodding.


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