All throughout the Iowa countryside, green is starting to emerge. The long days of planting are paying off as our little plants break through the soil! (There are still some soybeans to be planted and pockets where the weather hasn’t cooperated, but luckily not for this operation.)
Really most of the hard work is done. We leave much of the rest up to mother nature. Farmers (including J) are starting to get their first idea what the crop may look like by going into their fields and checking “stands.” Funny enough, this is one area I have actual qualifications and didn’t even realize it. Back in the day, I worked at the local Pioneer Hy-Bred research facility in my home town and for one long month of May, I did what we called “counting corn.” I have since learned that Farmer J’s slang of “checking stands” = taking stand counts = “counting corn.”
Little did I know, but what we were doing was helping to calculate the corn population (not a glamorous job). My assumption is that since the fields we were working in were for research, we counted every corn plant so that the yields / results could be accurately analyzed later. Farmers take stand counts to give them an initial picture of how many seeds germinated in a field. They then extrapolate that number to determine how many plants there will be across a field. Luckily, this count doesn’t need to be quite as accurate, so they don’t need a crew of 20 teenagers to count every plant in the field. The counts J does are more of a sampling of areas and then a quick calculation (something this auditor is very familiar with!) There are actually several websites (mostly from land-grant universities on how to perform the calculations and evaluate stand). If you are really curious about how this works, check out the Iowa State and Pioneer websites (in honor of my favorite Iowa university and my former summer employer).
I am thinking I might have to go into the field this weekend and try to rekindle my corn counting skills and determine if J’s initial counts were reasonably accurate (a total auditor move). He told me the counts are looking favorable, so now we just need that perfect balance of rain and sun!
Happy holiday weekend friends and family. An extra special shout out goes to my Grandma as it’s her 85th birthday weekend! She is a fellow farm wife and a great source of guidance and inspiration in this area especially. She doesn’t have the internet, so I am going to go tell her in person :).