Monday, April 04, 2011

A Beginning Corn Farmer's Shopping List?

If I'm going to do this whole open-pollinated corn experiment I need to start getting serious ... and fast! Of course I'm going to need to get some corn (if I can even find any this late in the game ... I remember some suggestions in previous comments), but I've also been thinking about the "shopping" list of equipment that I'm going to need in order to pull of this feat. As I build my shopping list it becomes very evident that there are really two lists that I could build. A list based on my labor/patience/time and a list based on a more mechanized approach. I thought I would share both lists and see if anyone had any suggestions. Before I get to the lists though I thought I should share what I'm working with. I'm thinking of planting in two areas that will total roughly five acres of ground I believe. Both areas have been winter lots or "sacrificial areas in  the past and don't have very much grass covering the ground right now. But, they both should have some good nutrients to work with. Now for the lists ...

Small-Scale :: More Labor

  • Soil Preparation ~ Rear-tine garden tiller (I have one, but it would require lots of time/patience)
  • Planting ~ Simple one row garden planter (Again, I have this one ... see above for requirements)
  • Cultivating/Weed Control ~ Rear-tine garden tiller
  • Harvesting ~ I've got two hands right and a wagon right?
  • Storage ~ Haven't quite figured that one out yet ... open for suggestions ...

Small-Scale :: More Machinery (less time needed)

  • Soil Preparation ~ 2-bottom plow (I have this one and plowing might not be a bad idea to take care of some of the brush) ... and then disc/harrow (I don't have a disc ... probably can get a harrow without much trouble)
  • Planting ~ 2/4-row planter (Don't have and would need to do some shopping or asking around)
  • Cultivating/Weed Control ~ Cultivator (Again, I don't have one ... I would think if I could locate a smaller three-point cultivator it wouldn't cost too much)
  • Harvesting ~ Two hands and a wagon still sounds fun, but I know a guy with a two-row picker ... maybe I could work something out
  • Storage ~ See above list ...

As you can see the "more machinery" list is also going to be the "more money" list, but is it also the "more practical" list considering a town job and all the other demands of life? I would love some input ... or even leads on equipment ;)


Rich said...

Looking at the web page for Abbe Hills Farm and reading about their seed corn and how it was developed makes me think that their variety might be a good choice to try growing.

Plus, it looks like they grade their seed corn into different sizes (large flat, medium flat, and large round) which means that you will get a consistent flow through your planter which will give you a consistent stand. I'm not sure if some of the other seed sellers I have looked at grade their seed.

Depending on whether you have the time to actually go to the farm and pick up your corn seed (an option at this farm), I always seem to learn something when I go somewhere like that (which can be hard to put a value on).

On the subject of equipment, as much as I hate to spend money on unnecessary equipment, I try to buy used equipment that I can either resell for close to what I originally paid, and I try to make enough off the use in the first year or so to "pay-off" the equipment.

As an example, if you are able to plant and harvest 5 acres of corn, how much feed would that replace? 5 acres at a modest 50 bu/acre gives you 250 bushels of corn plus the corn stubble for grazing, bedding, etc. for the price of seed and fuel (assuming no fertilizer). The money you don't spend on feed and bedding, etc. might easily pay for your equipment especially when you figure that the equipment will last for years and can be resold in the future.

I honestly don't see how you could plant more that about 1/2 acre using a tiller and hand seeder and even then you would be questioning your sanity at the end of the summer. And, you would probably wear out both the seeder and tiller in one summer trying to plant and cultivate 5 acres of corn.

John Marion said...

Considering you're a one-man operation, doing all that hard work on your own, plus your town job, if you are really going to do this, you need to go with the option that requires less of your time. There must be people around your neck of the woods that you can borrow stuff from, or would lend you a hand. Just ask. Good luck!

BadVooDooDaddy said...

Sounds to me like the second list is the best. You can always trade for the equipment or work out a deal with a friend or neighbor to use their equipment. The storage part is the sticker. You most defiantly need a place to put the corn after harvest that is going to keep it dry and hopefully vermin free too.

Anonymous said...

Try Green Haven
I'm thinking about Wapsie Valley or Reid Yellow Dent. Both can yield around 100 to 120 bushel.

Anonymous said...

Busy men need tools to make life easier. You have a plow; use it, use one row planter you have or locate a corn planter at a neighbor. Have a carry-all box for your tractor? If not build one; I did, most useful attachment for the tractor ever. Many hands make for easy harvest so have a harvest party. Toss the ears into the carry-all.

Store it all in a corn crib. Easy to make and can be any size to fit your needs. Up off the ground, rodent resistant, roofed, airy. Keeps your corn, helps it dry.

Stock will eat the whole thing or run it through a mill cob and all.

I'm in CA. Really like Reid's Yellow Dent.

Winston Bearkiller

Britt said...

I love your tenacity and heart to go with a dream and start a farm from minimal resources, experience, etc. Spirit of a true winner and dreamer. I am no farmer, but I do have family and family friends who live the farming/ranching lifestyle. Just wanted to share a product that has brought some ease to their finances.

It's called APSA 80. It aids irrigation by increasing the rate at which water soaks into soil, and it promotes more efficient water usage. Supposed to help cut your water usage by up to 50%. I know you're looking to grow corn. Here is a link with the studies on its effects on corn crops.

Just a thought to help with finances!

you can purchase it at

Happy farming from a fellow blogger!

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