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Knee-High By The Fourth Of July? Ag Watchers Say Corn Crop Responding Well To This Year's Weather

Jerry Kenney

There’s an old farming adage when it comes to corn crops: “knee-high by the Fourth of July.” The traditional saying refers to how tall a good corn crop should be by that date. But for many Miami Valley farmers this year, the corn crop passed that benchmark some time ago. 

Ty Kalaus, regional deputy director for the United States Department of Agriculture, Great Lakes Region says some of the credit goes to this spring and summer’s alternately rainy -- and then hot, dry weather. 

“Farmers got kind of a late start planting this year - kind of a cold wet spring, but they were able to catch up," he says.

"And as of Monday, the crop weather report was that the crop is looking pretty good at this point.”

Jamestown farmer, Jim Spahr talks about rural life and some of the challenges and benefits that go with that life. And in this interview for WYSO Weekend, Spahr tells us what's up with this years corn crops.

Jim Spahr owns and operates a more than 800-acre farm in Jamestown. Much of the corn he’s growing this year stands at at least six feet already.

“It has come along real fast, and right through Greene County I think we have very good crops,” he says.


Spahr says it’s a little-known fact that corn planted later in the season actually grows taller than early season planting.

He says later planting may not always mean "more yield," but he adds the growing season isn’t over yet.

“We’ve got a long ways to go," Spahr says. "We need some rain in July and August. So, we’ll just have to see how the weather plays out.”

The USDA reports other crops, including soybean, oats and winter wheat, are also doing well this growing season.

Officials say they’ll have a clearer picture of the national corn and soybean yields when they issue their crop production report in early August.

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.