If you haven’t noticed, earlier this year, I stepped foot into the role of an Illinois Farm Families Field Mom (say that three times fast) so that I could get a chance to learn more about how the food in our state is grown and distributed to families like mine. While I’m still reeling from the Farm Mom’s field trip that I took two weeks ago, I’m learning that I am pretty secure in the choices that I make with my family. This particular field trip, we learned about how corn and soybeans are planted, harvested and what they are used for.
We visited the Jeschke farm in Mazon, Il and the husband and wife team were super gracious to us. I know that it must be pretty intense when having to discuss the use of GMO’s in this day and age – and support the reasoning behind your choice. And believe me, the Farm Mom’s didn’t leave ANY questions unasked. We wanted answers as to why SO MUCH of our produce today have GMO’s. Some of us are secure in our choices, and some are still not convinced that this is the way that farming should be going. However, everyone who visited the farm walked out with respect for the way that the farmers presented their reasoning.
This huge planter is responsible for getting all of the acreage of corn and soy planted in precision. The tractor is computerized AND has GPS so that the ending row is never more than 6 inches away from the next row when the tractor turns. It was fantastic to watch and I felt like a little kid back when I would watch farmers down in Tennessee and Mississippi when visiting my Granny Blackburn for the summers.
Our soybean acre (which is roughly the size of a football field – trust me, we walked it) was revealed to us during this field trip. We were able to see the new soybean sprouts a couple of weeks after they had been planted.
Oh! There they are! Did you know that the seed shell comes up with the soybean? So those “leaves” that you see are actually the bean being split and pushing up through the soil. Neat, huh? Here is the beginning of a corn-stalk. Another fact: Corn stalks only produce one ear of corn each. You may be lucky enough to get two ears. None of that cartoon depiction over this way. Mrs. Houseful’s Five Takeaways:
- Corn stalks produce one ear per stalk. One acre will yield several thousand ears of corn
- Roughly 1% of the corn grown in the world is sweet corn. All other is corn used for products such as cereal, meal, gas, and oil.
- Illinois farmers are required to have no more than 85% of their crop be non-GMO
- Soybean and Corn acres also get their own type of doctor. Someone who tests the soil and makes sure that the nitrogen balance is correct for planting
- Farmers really love getting their new seed catalogs just as much as some women enjoy getting their new seasonal clothing catalogs.