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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sevens in nature

I just heard my first locust of the season buzzing to get out of its shell. If certain folklore handed down through my family is to be believed, that means autumn will arrive in seven weeks. That will put us in about the middle of August. Looking forward to an early fall this year.

Posted by Marie at July 1, 2006 2:46 PM


Having just seen An Inconvenient Truth at Parkway Pointe, I can't help but woolgather, and wonder if seven weeks is wrong now. I don't really know anything about locusts, but I can make up something that makes sense. Maybe they hatch at the peak of summer. However, if our summers are longer (i.e., they get hot earlier), then maybe the locusts are coming out early. Maybe for the next decade, the first locusts will mean autumn will arrive in 9 weeks. Or course, if the summer gets here earlier, and then leaves alter, maybe the first locusts will mean autumn in 11 weeks.

Anyway, I've recently become interested in folklore like this. The one that got me started went something like "sow corn when oak leaves are the size of your thumb," or something like that, with "corn," "oak," and "size of your thumb" all possibly wrong.

Posted by: greg claxton at July 1, 2006 4:42 PM

Greg, I've heard that sow corn thing, too. I think that was put out by the same folks who said, for a good harvest, the corn should be "knee high by the Fourth of July." And, since this is the Fourth of July weekend, I checked the corn. It's getting close to about six feet tall.

Posted by: Marie at July 1, 2006 10:49 PM

I work in the ag industry ... and every year about this time, we get media inquiries wanting to know if Illinois corn is really "knee high by the fourth of July."

If corn is ever really "knee high by the fourth of July" we are in bad trouble! haha I wouldn't even think of walking down the rows now ... because it towers over my short head. :)

Posted by: ThirtyWhat at July 2, 2006 10:32 AM

My cousin-in-law in Wisconsin used to say "knee high by the fourth of July", too. He used to grow corn on his farm (He leases his acreage now). When I was there in late June two years ago, the corn was at least six feet tall. Maybe it has to be "at least" knee high by the fourth.

Posted by: Rob at July 2, 2006 7:51 PM

Rob, I think the reason the corn is so tall so soon has something to do with all the new high yield seeds that have been invented in the last 50 or so years. Maybe ThirtyWhat can shed some light on it for us.

Posted by: Marie at July 2, 2006 9:02 PM

ALRIGHT ... are you ready for this? It's long ... but I did a little digging and here's what they're telling me:

a) Yes ... technology plays into it. We use more fertilizer ... more pesticides ... better grades of hybrid corn ... that all contributes to a stronger, taller corn crop.

b) We plant earlier than ever before. Growing seasons are changing. Fifty years ago we planted in May/June ... now we're starting in April. Obviously that means the corn would've been shorter on the 4th of July because it was in the ground a much shorter period of time.

c) Better hardware. We've got million dollar equipment that allows us to plant in a matter of days instead of weeks. Remember those old plow horses? We used to take WEEKS to plant fields ... so while some of the "beginning" crop might have been HEAD high by the 4th of July ... the "end" of your planting might have only been KNEE high.

d) Finally ... not to be a smart ass ... it's 5:00 somewhere. What I mean ... it was probably knee high "somewhere" at the 4th of July. They tell me that planting seasons are different in different areas of the United States. So basically, in Alabama ... it might have NEVER been knee high by the 4th of July ... but someplaces in the Dakotas ... it might STILL Be true.

More than you wanted to know about growing seasons and corn, eh? haha :) Now ... don't even get me STARTED on high fructose corn syrup! The information I could give you on THAT ... whew!

Posted by: ThirtyWhat at July 5, 2006 9:56 AM

That is some interesting and useful information, TW. Thank you.

Posted by: Marie at July 5, 2006 11:07 PM