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William Thomas Ainsworth.

Practical corn culture, written especially for the corn belt farmers online

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condition of the soil, stable manure contains, to a greater
or less extent, such plant foods as nitrogen, phosphate and
potassium. These elements are essential to all plant growth
and are deficient in most soils of the Corn Belt. A ton of
good stable manure contains about ten pounds of nitrogen,
five pounds of phosphoric acid and ten pounds of potash.
If these elements were to be obtained from the commercial
fertilizers on the very best terms they would cost $2.65 per



STABLE AND BARNYARD MANURE



85



ton. This is on the basis of nitrogen at eighteen cents a
pound, phosphoric acid at four cents a pound and potash at
four and one-half cents a pound.

While these elements are not as available for plant food
in stable manures as in some commercial fertilizers, we be-
lieve this is more than made up by the value of the addi-
tional organic matter present.

On the basis of plant food elements contained, good stable
manure is worth $2.65 per ton after it is applied to the land.




(Courtesy Rock Island Plow Co.)

MANUEE SPEEADER IN OPEEATION

The lowest figures we have at hand value stable manure at
$1.80 per ton, while the Ohio Experiment Station claims that
crops are increased from $3.00 to $4.00 for each ton applied.
When used as a top dressing on clover fields, we value manure
at $3.00 per ton, at least.

MANURE PROM STOCKYARDS AND CITY STABLES

Manure is worth a great deal more after it is applied
to the land than before it is hauled from the city stables or
railway station. Where manure is purchased in nearby towns



86 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE

and hauled to the farm it should be bought at prices low
enough to enable the farmer to make good wages for his
trouble in hauling, aside from its value in building up the
land.

In most parts of the Corn Belt proper, manure from city
stock yards can be purchased for as low as $1.00 per ton,
freight prepaid to the farmer's nearest station. If the manure
is of fair quality and as many as four loads can be hauled
per man and team in one day we consider it a good purchase
with corn selling at sixty cents per bushel. "Where wood
shavings are used for bedding and the manure is of poor
quality, it is doubtful whether it would pay to handle it
at the above price.

The best and cheapest manure is usually that obtained in
the small towns of the Corn Belt. For several years past we
have hauled annually, from eight hundred to one thousand
tons of manure from the town of Mason City. We haul from
one to two tons at a load and give in exchange straw for
bedding. A considerable part of our land joins Mason City
on the south so that the hauls are short. One man with a
one hundred and twenty bushel spreader averages from six
to eight tons per day, depending on the roads and condition
of manure. "We fully realize that in getting manure at the
above prices we are taking advantage of an opportunity
that does not lie at every farmer's door. Mason City is
surrounded by a very fertile country and for this reason
the manure is not appreciated locally like it will be twenty
years hence. The town customers who supply us with this
manure seem to care less for the straw they receive for bed-
ding than the fact that we call regularly for the manure.
If any farmer wants a dependable supply of manure from
town stables it is necessary to be prepared to haul at all
seasons of the year when the roads will permit. No longer
than ten years ago it was necessary to inforce town ordi-



STABLE AND BARNYARD MANURE 87

nances in order to get stable litter removed from the alleys
of this town before it became a nuisance to public health.

When it comes to appreciating the value of stable manure,
the eastern farmer has shown himself more aggressive than
the Corn Belt farmer. In New England manure has had a
market value for several generations past. The fact that the
eastern farmer finds it necessary to manure his land while
some of the western farms are fertile enough to grow a crop
without manure is no excuse for the Corn Belt farmer. While
it is still possible for us to grow a crop without first apply-
ing manures or fertilizers it is also true that a ton of manure
applied to the black prairie land of Illinois will increase the
yield of corn, wheat and oats more bushels than would be
the case if the manure were applied to thin, hilly land. With
farm crops bringing the present good prices we can surely
afford to be as careful in saving and as painstaking in apply-
ing manures as can our eastern brothers. The New England
farmer has been driven by necessity to increase the fertility
of his soil. In fact, much of the secret of every eastern
farmer's success is to save all the manure and return it to
the soil. Many of us in the West are still living off the fat
of the land and some of us will continue to mine our soils
until the fertility is completely exhausted.

How SHOULD MANURE BE APPLIED?

Every Corn Belt farmer who is farming as much as one
hundred and sixty acres can afford to own a manure spreader.
The spreader distributes the manure more evenly and over
a larger area than is possible when applied by hand. We
believe that two tons applied with a spreader will go as far
as three tons applied in any other manner. If the farm
produces only one hundred tons of stable manure in a year
and it is made to go as far as one hundred and fifty tons
applied by hand, there has been a saving of fifty tons of



88 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE

manure. If this is worth only $1.50 per load the spreader
has resulted in a saving of $75.00 per year on manure. In
addition to this there will be a saving of fully $25.00 in labor.
A spreader that is kept oiled when in use and shedded when
not should last from ten to fifteen years. The average life
of our own spreaders is from eight to ten years, but in
hauling manure from town they are subjected to harder
usage than would be the case if used only on the farm.



A good time to spread manure is on clover sod just before
planting corn, but a better time is to apply the manure to
the clover plants the fall before. This causes a decided in-
crease in the growth of the clover and if the last crop is
turned under the additional growth will be of greater benefit
to the succeeding corn crops than would be the case if the
manure was applied direct to the corn. Again, manure can
be spread on clover fields in wet weather when the team
and wagon would pack and injure plowed ground.

For several years we practiced the top dressing of wheat
after the ground became frozen, but now we are convinced
that manure is worth more when applied to clover or pasture
land.

The greatest objection that we have to manure is that
it does not go far enough and this is the strongest reason for
carefully preserving and applying all that is produced on the
farm. It may be necessary, in time, for the Corn Belt farmer
to use commercial fertilizers, but the longer he can hold this
day off the better it will be for him.

By carefully returning to the soils all the manures, corn
stalks and other trash and in some cases applying rock
phosphate or limestone, the prairie farmer, with the help of
frequent leguminous crops, should be able to maintain the
productivity of his land indefinitely.



STABLE AND BARNYARD MANURE 89

ADDITIONAL READING

'The Fertility of the Land." By Isaac Phillips Roberts.
'Making Best Use of Manure." 0. M. Hayes. The Ohio

Farmer. March 8, 1913.
: Handling Soil for Production." Twentieth Century Farmer.

March 15, 1913.
: Soils and Fertilizers." Harry Snyder, B. S.



CHAPTER VIII

PHOSPHORUS AND LIMESTONE

The three most important elements in the soil are nitrogen,
phosphorus and potassium. Of these three soil elements,
nitrogen is required in the largest amount. While nitrogen
is no more essential to the growth of corn than the other
two, it is the element most easily lost from the soil. As we
have stated under "Leguminous Crops," nitrogen can be
gathered from the air and stored in the soil by the growing
of such crops as clover, cowpeas and soy beans.

For this reason the growing of clover for the first time
on over-cropped corn land often makes the soil very produc-
tive for years to come because the supply of phosphorus and
potassium has not yet become lowered. But the supply of
phosphorus, like that of nitrogen, can become so low that
farm crops (especially clover) will not do well until enough
phosphorus has been replaced to bring the supply back to
normal.

On many soils in the Corn Belt the crop yield is limited
by the lack of phosphorus rather than by the lack of nitro-
gen. Now, the only way by which phosphorus can be added
to the soil is to buy it in some form or other and apply it to
the land. If the phosphorus content of the soil is actually
lower than the nitrogen content, there is no doubt but that
the application of phosphorus would be a profitable invest-
ment; but to apply phosphorus to soil that is already very
low in humus and nitrogen is nothing less than throwing
money away. If clover crops grow large and luxuriant on

90



91

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a soil, it is safe to say that the soil is not greatly deficient
in phosphorus, although a 1,000 pound application might still
be a profitable investment. At any rate, it can never do
any harm.

How TO BUY PHOSPHORUS

Phosphorus can be purchased in the form of bone meal,
acid cut rock phosphate, and raw rock phosphate. The results
of various experiments made at the Illinois Agricultural Ex-
periment Station at Urbana, prove conclusively that the most
economical method of increasing the phosphorus content of
the soil is by the application of finely ground rock phosphate
with stable manure, preferably spread on clover land.

A good grade of rock phosphate should contain from ten
to twelve per cent of phosphorus. Since the phosphorus is
the only part of the rock that is of value to the soil, it should
be purchased on the basis of the phosphorus it contains.
The phosphorus is chemically locked up in the rock and
requires the action of some acid to liberate it and make it
available for plant use. For this reason it is best to apply
it with manure on clover fields.

The acids in the manure and clover plant will set free
the phosphorus much more quickly than when applied to
some grain crop. The rock phosphate should be ground fine
enough so that at least 90 per cent of it will pass through
a one-hundred mesh screen. The finer it is ground the more
quickly it will be acted on by the acids in the soil.

APPLICATION

A good time to apply rock phosphate is in the fall. If
as much as twelve tons are needed, it is well to purchase it
in bulk by the carload. By getting a minimum carload, it is
much cheaper than buying in bags. A good method of



92 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE

spreading, one that we have followed, is to fill the manure
spreader about half full of manure, then spread on a layer
of phosphate an inch or two in depth, then fill up the spreader
with manure. It is very liable to blow away, and the manure
on top prevents this. "We have a drill that we have used to
some extent, made especially for applying phosphate, but
we prefer to apply with the manure spreader, provided we
have the manure.

RESULTS

The results of experiments, covering a period of five years,
on the King farm northeast of Springfield, show that phos-
phate treated plots yielded an average of seventeen and six-
tenths bushels more of corn per acre than untreated plots.
The increase in the yield of oats and wheat was also pro-
portionately greater. The Illinois Agricultural Experiment
Station at Urbana has obtained equally good results. On
the other hand, we want to be candid with our readers and
state that our own results with phosphate have not been so
favorable. We believe that one thousand pounds per acre
applied on forty acres will eventually pay for itself in in-
creased yields. In addition to increasing the yields some-
what, phosphorus has caused the corn to mature earlier and
has made it more sound than that grown on the untreated
fields. These last results, rather than the small increase in
yields, have convinced us that we have profited by the appli-
cation of phosphate. We expect to use more in the future.

LIMESTONE

The object of applying limestone is to neutralize the
acidity of the soil. Limestone is not a plant food. If soil
is acid, bacteria storing legumes will not thrive. Without



PHOSPHORUS AND LIMESTONE 93

these bacteria, it is impossible for clover, soy beans, cowpeas,
etc., to secure nitrogen from the air. If soil is very acid
(sour), legumes can not be grown until it has first been
sweetened by the application of limestone. Thousands of
acres of land in southern Illinois are now growing clover
where it was once thought such crops could not be grown.
In these cases, clover crops were made possible by the appli-
cation of limestone.

To determine the acidity of soil, place blue litmus paper
between two layers of soil to be tested. If the paper turns
red in a few minutes the soil may be considered acid and the
application of from one to three tons per acre would prob-
ably be a very profitable investment. Ground limestone costs
from one to three dollars per ton, delivered at most Illinois
points. This difference in price is due largely to the differ-
ence in freight charges. (The state penitentiary at Chester
is the source of a considerable supply of crushed limestone.)

Our soil is only very slightly acid. For this reason we
have never used any limestone on our own farms. However,
we intend to apply it to our alfalfa fields next year.

POTASSIUM

So far, we have said nothing about the plant food element,
potassium, for the reason that the common prairie soils con-
tain enough of this element to last for generations to come.
On the other hand, bottom lands, subject to overflow, already
show a shortage of potassium. Potassium is usually supplied
by applying muriate of potash. When muriate of potash is
applied to land that is not deficient in potassium it acts as
a crop stimulant rather than as a soil builder. Germany
is the principal source of potash.



94 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE

ADDITIONAL READING

"Phosphorus Results." By O. S. Fisher. Illinois State Reg-
ister. September 20, 1913.

"The Salvation of Our Soil." By B. E. Powell. Successful
Farming, February, 1913.

"Frank Mann's Soil Book." By Frank I. Mann. (Mr. Mann
is a practical farmer actively engaged in farming.)

"Results of Scientific Soil Treatment." By Mann and Hop-
kins. 111. Agri. Ex. Sta., Bulletin 149.

"The Fertility of the Land." By Isaac Phillips Roberts.



PART III

THE SEED



CHAPTER IX
SELECTING THE BEST EARS FOR SEED

In selecting the best ears of corn, whether for display or
general field planting, the object should be to choose those
ears which will yield the greatest number of bushels of sound
corn per acre. Of course, if one is selecting a ten-ear sample
to display at some corn show or fair, one can afford to pay
more attention to the fancy points of each individual ear
than would be the case in selecting several bushels for general
planting. Remember that depth of kernel, vitality, and ma-
turity count for more in yield than do fancy tips and butts.
A sample containing a few ears having shallow kernels and
showing lack of maturity will never take a ribbon in a con-
test where there is much competition, no matter how near per-
fect the other qualities may be.

FIELD SELECTION

If seed corn is desired for a breeding or seed plot, it
is a good plan to select it from the field after the first or
second frost. In this way, the corn plant, as well as the ear,
can be studied; but do not be in too much of a hurry. The
natural place for corn to ripen is in the field and ears
selected before they are properly ripened will have a ten-
dency to become chaffy after they are dried. An ear that
has matured well in the field will show a strong germ and will

95

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SELECTING BEST EARS FOR SEED



97



grow quickly in the spring providing the germ has not been
injured by hard freezing weather.

In selecting seed corn from the field, choose only those
ears showing the same degree of maturity. Select all early
or all medium ears, depending on your requirements. The
earliest maturing ears from a field will average smaller in
size than ears of medium maturity. We believe that most
of the corn grown in the corn belt matures too late to
produce the greatest number of bushels of sound corn. (All
elevators, at present, grade corn on the basis of the moisture




1234 56

VAEIATION IN SIZE OF KEENELS

Since it is impossible to so adjust the planter as to drop these different sized

kernels with uniformity, all ears like the four on the left should be

discarded. Ear 1 js uniform, but the kernels are too small.

Ears 5 and 6 have uniform kernels of the proper size.

it contains.) On the other hand, the period of maturity
cannot be shortened to any great extent without reducing
the average weight of the ears. In view of these two facts,
we are firmly convinced that the best corn for general pur-
poses is that which will utilize practically the entire growing
season, and mature safely before it is damaged by freezing.
Maturity is determined by the dryness of the stalk leaves
and by the firmness of the ears and grain.



98



PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE



Ears should be taken only from those plants that are
grown under normal conditions, no matter how vigorous the
individual plant. Choose erect, strong, healthy plants. Select
ears of a desirable height on the stalk. They should be
neither too high or too low. We prefer ears of a height of




123
PLUMPNESS OF KEENELS AT GERM END

Ears (see ear No. 1) with too much space between kernels at cob should
not be used for seed purposes. Ears Nos. 2 and 3 are desirable

about three feet. There is a marked hereditary tendency
in the height of the ears on the stalks which makes it pos-
sible, through selection, to have very tall stalks with the
ears nearly touching the ground. This, however, is un-
doubtedly an undesirable extreme. We are strongly of the
opinion that the height of the ear on the stalk should be in
proportion to the height of the stalk. Johnson, or Boone
County White, corn produces a very tall stalk in this lati-
tude and unless bred low more ears will be above four feet
than under that height. Four feet is not an undesirable
height for so heavy a stalk.

In field selection, soundness and depth of kernel are



99



determined roughly by the weight of the ear. Determine
in advance what type is desired and then select ears
which conform to that type. Before selecting an ear,
examine it by pulling back the husk on one side. If it is not
desirable it can be left with little damage to the ear. Unless





1234
SPACE BETWEEN THE EOWS

In ears Nos. 1 and 2 there is too much space between the rows. In ear No.

3 there is not enough space to enable the ear to dry properly. No. 4

shows the proper amount of space between the rows

field selection is undertaken in a thorough and painstaking
manner, the effort is often wasted.

KE-SORTING THE CORN

If corn is selected in the field, it is a good plan to gather
two or three times as much as will be needed so that it can
be carefully culled after it is thoroughly dry. Many unde-
sirable points are often seen in corn after it is dry that can
not be detected in the field. In order to make the compari-
son of ears as easy as possible, they should be placed on a
table. After all ears that show marked inferiority have been



100



PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE



discarded, the remaining ears should be placed side by side
and at least two kernels removed from the middle of each
and placed above the ear for comparison. From now on
we can more easily study the different points by using the
corn score card.

THE CORN SCORE CARD

The score card is necessarily arbitrary and inflexible, and
should not be followed too closely in the final judging and




DEPTH OF KERNELS

In ears No. 1 and 2 the kernels are too shallow and the percentage of cob to

ear is too great. Ears Nos. 3 and 4 show deep wedge-shaped kernels

and will shell out a high percentage of corn

comparison of samples. Nevertheless, it is the best aid the
beginner has for determining the relative values and differ-
ent points of merit in different samples. The corn growers'
associations in the different states have all adopted some
form of score card to be used in the work of corn judging
at their annual short courses held at the state agricultural
colleges.



SELECTING BEST EARS FOR SEED



101



The following table is the revised score card as adopted
by the Illinois Corn Growers' Association, January 25, 1911 :



MEASUREMENT OP VARIETIES



NORTHERN DISTRICT OF STATE


Minimum
Length


Minimum
Circumfer-
ence


Per cent
of grain
on cob


Eeid 's Yellow Dent


8.5 in.


6. 5 in.


88


Learning


8.5 in.


6. 5 in.


88


Boone or Johnson County White ....
Biley 's Favorite


8.5 in.
8.5 in.


6. 5 in.
6. 5 in.


88
90


Golden Eagle


8.5 in.


6.75 in.


90


Silver Mine


8.5 in.


6. 5 in.


90


Champion White Pearl


8 in.


6. 5 in.


85


General Classes


8.5 in.


16. 5 in.


88


CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN
DISTRICTS OF STATE

Eeid 's Yellow Dent


9 5 in.


6.75 in.


88


Learning


9.5 in


6.75 in.


88


Boone or Johnson County White. ....


9.5 in.


6.75 in.


88


Eiley 's Favorite


9 in.


6.75 in.


90


Golden Eagle ,


9 in.


7 in.


90


Silver Mine


9 in.


6.75 in.


90


Champion White Pearl


8 in.


6.75 in.


85


General Classes .


9.5 in.


6.75 in.


88



THE CORN SCORE CARD





POINTS


Perfect
Score


Score of
Sample


1


Length of ear


10




9


Circumference of ear


5




3


Color in grain and cob


10




4


Shape of ear


10




5


Uniformity of exhibit


5




6


Tips of ears


5




7


Butts of ears


5




8


Kernel uniformity


5




q


Kernel shape


5




10


Space between rows


5




11


Space between kernels at cob


5




12


Vitality or seed condition


10




is


Trueness to type


10




14


Proportion of shell corn to ear


10














Perfect score


100













102 PRACTICAL CORN CULTURE

EXPLANATION OP POINTS IN THE SCORE CARD

1. Length of Ears: The' minimum length of the ear depends on
the variety under consideration; thus, the minimum length of Eetd's
Yellow Dent in the Central Illinois Division is 9.5 inches, Golden
Eagle is 9 inches and White Pearl is 8 inches. The deficiencies in
length of all ears (in a ten ear sample) are added together, for every
inch thus resulting a cut of two points is made. The length is
measured from the butt to the extreme tip.

2. Circumference of Ears: The minimum circumference, like the
length, varies with the variety measurement. The deficiencies in cir-
cumference of all ears (in a ten-ear sample) are added together, and for
every inch thus resulting a cut of two points is made. The circumference
is measured at about one-third the distance from the butt to the tip of
the ear.

3. Color: In judging color, a red cob in white corn or a white
cob in yellow corn is cut ten points. For one mixed kernel, a cut of
one-fifth of a point is made; for two, two-fifths of a point, and so
on up to five or more, when a one point cut is made for each additional
off-kernel. Kernels missing may be counted as mixed, at the discre-
tion of the judge. Differences in shade of color of grain or cob are
scored according to variety characteristics.

4. Shape of Ears: All ears should be cylindrical with straight rows
and with proper proportion of length and circumference. The shape
of the ear should conform to the variety type; thus Learning ears
should be slightly tapering.

5. Uniformity of Exhibit: Ears should be uniform in shape,
length and circumference.

6. Tips of Ears: Oval shape and regularly filled out with large
dented kernels. In selecting for seed it is sometimes not advisable
to insist that the tip be covered. If well covered tips are selected
year after year the ears will become shortened and more will be lost
than gained.

7. Butts of Ears: Kernels rounded over the end of the cob in
regular manner, leaving a deep depression where shank is removed.
Properly filled butts indicate perfect pollination and a relatively high
proportion of corn to cob. At present there is not as much stress laid
upon good butts and tips as formerly. A good butt, however, is more
important than a good tip.

8. Kernel Uniformity: Kernels from the same ear and from the


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Online LibraryWilliam Thomas AinsworthPractical corn culture, written especially for the corn belt farmers → online text (page 6 of 11)