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PLANTING CORN

I think that it would be safe to say that, in the 1920's, most of the farm fields, in the area that we lived, were limited to ten acres. To plant a crop of corn the fields were first plowed. This was done with either a walking plow pulled by two horses or with a riding plow pulled by three horses. These plows were usually of a size that turned a furrow no more than fourteen inches wide. You can see that it would take a considerable amount of time to plow even ten acres. After the plowing was done the field was dragged with a spring tooth drag. This was followed by at least once over with a spike toothed drag.

Most of the planting was done with a two row, horse drawn, corn planter. Some corn, however, was still planted with a hand operated planter. That hand planter was a device that would, as you walked along and jabbed the lower part into the ground, drop a predetermined number of kernels into the hole that it had made. You needed to pace your strides so that you would step on the spot where the kernels had been dropped. This assured a firm bed for the seed.

Before you started to plant with the hand planter you needed to mark out the rows, each way, so that you had a pattern to follow. The horse drawn planter "checked" the seed in. That is, it dropped the seeds in evenly spaced rows, in both directions, like the trees in an orchard. This was done with a wire that was stretched across the field. The wire had enlarged places, like knots along it's length and as you drove along, an arm on the planter, that straddled the wire would engage these knots and trip a device that would drop the right amount of seed. The seed would be dropped into a trench that was being formed by a shoe at the base of the planter. The number of seeds that were dropped could be regulated by changing plates in the bottom of the seed hoppers. The planter had a long boom attached to it's rear center that could be extended out to either side. On the outer end of this boom was a metal disc that, as you drove along, made a mark for you to follow on your next pass across the field.

Each time that you crossed the field you would move the end of the wire a distance equal to the spacing of the knots. This would cause the planter to drop the seeds at a point that would line up with the hills in the last two rows that you had planted. The reason for this whole thing was to make it possible to cultivate the field in both directions to control the weeds. No weed killers, herbicides, pesticides or artificial fertilizers were available, at that time. If I remember correctly it was customary to cultivate the corn, each way, at least twice during the growing season and your crop was doing alright if the corn was knee high by the fourth of July.

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