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Knee High By The Fourth Of July?

Corn at Whitehall Farm in Yellow Springs
Chris Welter
/
WYSO
Corn at Whitehall Farm in Yellow Springs

Due to heavy rains in late April, it’s been a late planting year for farmers in Ohio.

Jason Ward farms over 500 acres of organic crops in the Miami Valley. 

A cereal rye cover crop planted by Jason Ward at Glass Farm in Yellow Springs
Chris Welter
/
WYSO

He planted late this year because of rain in April and early May. He says the ground was too moist and if he’d planted his seeds then they would have rotted in the ground. But, he says, he finished planting his fields about 10 days ago and now it needs some rain. 

“It could all use a good rain. Now it seems like we get a kind of rain when we’re trying to plant and then we get everything planted and then we get no rain.”

There’s an old saying among farmers in the midwest that corn should be knee high by the Fourth of July. Ward says that isn’t completely accurate and that good growth depends on the conditions each year. In fact, he says, with all the fertilizers modern farmers use, if your corn is knee high by the Fourth of July, you’re probably behind. Nowadays, it should be at least chest high by the Fourth.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.