Corn crops - what a difference a year makes
June 6th, 2013
12:45 PM ET
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Editor's Note: Brian Scott farms with his father and grandfather on 2,300 acres of land in northwest Indiana. They grow corn, soybeans, popcorn and wheat. He blogs about it at The Farmer's Life.

If I'd met Mother Nature in 2012, I would have to assume at this point in 2013 that she is bipolar. Record high temperatures last March pushed us to planting time nearly a month ahead of an average start date. At the beginning of June 2012, we did not yet know that the rain wouldn't fall for another six weeks, and temperatures would hold steady in the triple digit zone.

I asked my sister to snap a picture of me standing in the corn we planted on April 2. I was surprised at how well the crops looked without more than a few tenths of precipitation since seed met soil, and wanted to show off our earliest planted corn blowing away that old "knee high by Fourth of July" saying.

brian scott corn
Brian Scott stands in his corn field in June 2012

So here we are in the first days of June and 2013 has been a wet one thus far. Although our first planting date of May 6 wasn't incredibly late from an agronomic standpoint, it definitely felt late by comparison. Our whole farm was planted by April 23 last year - a record early date for us.

The picture my sister took came to mind this year, and I thought another picture (above) of the earliest planted corn we have would be a good way to showcase just how much weather can affect a farm. One year we have corn about my height in early June, and twelve months later the new crop is only a foot tall.

The funny part is I'm just as optimistic about this crop now as I was about the 2012 crop at this time a year ago. One year we are praying for rain and the next we are waiting for the weather to clear up so we can get some work done. If there is one constant in farming it must be that each new season brings with it the potential to have your best crop.

I must say, I've had to bite my tongue in order not to complain about all the rain this season. I'd much rather be waiting for dry fields to work in than waiting for a rain that might not come. Rain makes grain right?

Want to know more about where your corn, beef and other foods are coming from? Here's your chance. Brian Scott and plenty of other farmers are listening, so post your question in the comments below and we'll do our best to get you an answer.

Previously:
Despite last year's drought, corn production is popping
Harvesting the lessons of Drought '12
Opinion: My family farm isn't under "corporate control"
Farmers aren't evil. Now can we have a civil conversation?
What should a 'local' farm (and farmer) look like?
Praying for rain in the Arkansas drought
What a farmer wants you to know about how beef gets to your plate
Start a conversation with a farmer
Farmer in the know: 5 easy ways you can help us help animals



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soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Private personal training

    Ask and you shall receive! Let it rain.

    January 28, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Reply
  2. applpy

    Reblogged this on Thought + Food and commented:
    As part of Thought+Food's close look at the journey of our food, I am hoping to highlight the very beginning and this account of planting corn on a family farm provides an insight into that world which is particularly interesting for the urban consumer.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:19 am | Reply
  3. RichardHead

    KeyWords--Monsanto....Protocol.....Seed....Contamination.

    June 6, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  4. memsomerville

    I would think optimism would have to be the number 1 item on the farmer resume. Everything is aimed against you–random weather, insects, fungus–and yet y'all persist.

    It's nice to see it. Most people aren't so optimistic about their jobs. Although now that I think of it, scientists are like that too :)

    June 6, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Reply
    • Brian

      Maybe scientists and farmers are all alike because we both just keep trying things a little differently each go round until we get it right one day!

      June 7, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  5. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    "Brian Scott stands in his corn field in June 2102"

    Wow! A picture from the future!

    June 6, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Reply
    • Kat Kinsman

      Brian is a magical creature and we're lucky to have him.

      June 6, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Reply
      • Brian

        Like a unicorn I am

        June 6, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Reply
    • RichardHead@JDizz

      Yes, the NSA has pulled the Wool over our eyes.

      June 6, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  6. Jim@Brian Scott

    Thanks for the quick response Mr. Scott. This is indeed a mystery,one that seems to fall back on Monsanto. Perhaps you can help me understand how Farmers purchase their seeds for planting? Are there multiple choices of seed for corn,soy beans, etc? From what I understand " Protocols" have been put into place by Monsanto to make sure that GMO seeds are not contaminating nearby fields, Which leads me to my second question.....The Oregon field in question was NOT a part of the GMO trials, which ended in 2001. Also any pollen from the wheat should only travel 30 feet or more ( per Monsanto ) and makes me wonder......Bees,grasshoppers,rabbits, groundhogs? Just kidding....though it sounds like Monsanto is trying to say that a seed from 2001 was planted in this field. From my understanding seeds will last only 2 years, which makes this more of a mystery.
    Thank You for the Good words to Truckers......

    June 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Reply
    • Ryan Goodman

      Did you catch Brian's previous post where he discusses doing business with Monsanto? http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2013/01/17/opinion-my-family-farm-isnt-under-corporate-control/

      June 6, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Reply
      • Jim@Ryan Goodman

        Good Evening Sir, and Yes,I replied to his previous posts. What is your take on the GMO field?

        June 6, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Reply
        • Ryan Goodman

          On the GMO wheat found in Oregon? I'm not that worked up about it, because I still do not know everything that happened or has been discovered by USDA investigations. It will be interesting to learn how it got in the field in the first place. It's the USDA reports I will be looking for. Several media sources are likely to (and already are in some cases) take things out of proportion or crapshoot wild guesses for attention.

          June 6, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
      • Jim@Ryan Goodman

        Thanks Mr. Goodman for your reply. The USDA will sit on this until the last minute,and give a NON-Answer as usual. Do we have another place to ask for answers,or questions?

        June 6, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Reply
        • Ryan Goodman

          I guess our next best bet would be to listen to the farmers close to the situation. They are the folks (other than University and Industry researchers) who are closest to and know the most about growing wheat and the traits involved. Marie Bowers (http://oregongreen.wordpress.com/) is an Oregon farmer and friend who has blogged about her perspective and has kept us updated on the situation.

          June 6, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
        • Jim@Ryan Goodman

          What I asked of Mr. Scott was NOT from the MEDIA........this is something that the media does Not understand. My questions remain the same.....Why would seed from 2001 be used in a nondescript field in Oregon? Why would Monsanto deny that this is their seed? And I guess lastly, WHY can no one tell the American Public where this seed came from or how it was planted?

          June 6, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
        • Brian

          My understanding is this wheat was volunteer or rogue as some call it. The farmer was spraying the area with Roundup and knew there were a few stray wheat plants around which would not be entirely unusual. Problem was the wheat didn't die, so he took a sample over to Oregon State and here were are.

          Jim, Biofortified is one of my favorite agricultural websites. Not only are the posts great, but the discussion in the comments are just as good. Check their wheat post out http://www.biofortified.org/2013/06/scoop-on-ge-wheat-in-oregon/

          Applied Mythology is another favorite and they have posted about wheat as well at http://appliedmythology.blogspot.com/2013/06/rogue-wheat-now-found-in-127-countries.html

          Big Picture Agriculture is another great source, and of course don't forget me at thefarmerslife.com!

          June 6, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
        • Jim@Brian Scott

          Thanks for answering, A few stray plants you say? 1,000 acres and yet no one can say how many plants were sprayed? And this was from 2001,so I wonder....Contamination? Mr.Scott...could this be possible and how many acres of this GMO wheat are out there ? Is there a map, provided by Monsanto from years ago,that shows where this seed was planted? And may I also ask,why such secrecy on the purchase of seed for wheat,soy beans,etc? Has Monsanto become such a Giant that ALL Farmers will Not answer these questions?

          June 6, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
        • Brian

          Jim, I don't know about 1000 acres. Everything I've read said the field was kept fallow for one year and he was out spraying this spring ahead a planting and came across some wheat that didn't die. I haven't seen anything that claimed he had a whole field of GM wheat. Could his last crop somehow have been? Possibly, but I would say the odds of that are very, very low to almost nonexistant. I don't even know if any of the trials from a decade ago where conducted on his farm. I don't think wheat seed would persist that long in the soil. Some crops and lots of weeds had very hard seed that can stay in the soil and be viable many years later.

          Here's a quote from AgriPulse. "The unnamed Oregon farmer had planted winter wheat in the fall of 2011 and harvested the crop in spring of 2012, Firko explained. The field lay fallow for one year until the farmer, preparing for the spring 2013 planting, sprayed the “volunteer,” or unwanted, wheat plants with glyphosate. The farmer sent the surviving plants to Oregon State University, which notified USDA of the discovery on May 3."

          If Monsanto has already provided information on where the trials where I'm sure that info will come to light soon.

          I'd don't mean to be secrective about where my seed comes from, I just thought since you read that other post of mine you may have had some questions answered. My corn comes from mostly Pioneer and Specialty. Specialty uses Monsanto products. Our popcorn comes from Weaver Popcorn. The little bit of wheat we grow is generally Pioneer. We'll get a few other brands mixed in from time to time. This year we had a few bags of corn from Great Lakes and Brodbeck Seeds. We also raise soybeans for seed. The go to two different companies and there are all Roundup Ready.

          You can also see where all my grain goes here http://thefarmerslife.com/agchat/where-does-my-harvest-go/

          June 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
  7. Truth™

    Great news for anyone who eats! Here's to a great season for all of our farmers.

    June 6, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  8. Jim@Brian Scott

    Congrats on beating Mother Nature this year-I drive through Indiana a lot as an OTR Driver and remember the crops from last year. I have a question for you and your family ( including any other Farmers that read this )-What is your take on the GE wheat found in Oregon last month? GMO Foods is a hot topic that people are trying to understand. Keep up the Great Work and Thanks for feeding us.

    June 6, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Reply
    • Brian

      Thanks, Jim. And thanks for being a trucker! I can drive a semi, but I am not a "real" truck driver like yourself. I'm waiting for all the shoes to drop on the wheat thing. It seems to be quite a mystery as to why it ended up there as any field trials that were done were finished several years ago. I guess I'm withholding judgement until I know more. It shouldn't be there is all I know right now.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Reply

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