COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
DIVERSITY OF FLORIDA DIVISION OF AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION AND UNITED
STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE COOPERATING
WILMON NEWELL, Director
CORN GROWING SUGGESTIONS FOR NEGRO FARMERS
By C. K. MCQUARRIE
Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.
The corn crop is more popular, it seems, on the negro farm
an any other crop. This is one of the most important crops
at can be grown, for it supplies food material for both man
nd beast. A few suggestions along the lines of improved
methods in the production of corn should be of value at this
ime, as, owing to the readjustments that will take place this
ear and the probable low cost of farm products, it is necessary
o produce as large crops, and as economically, as possible.
SEED BED PREPARATION
The preparation of the seed bed for all crops is much more
elected than its importance warrants. To get best results
with corn a thoro preparation of the seed bed at least three or
four weeks before planting time should be made. The land
should be broken broadcast. A plow should be used that will
turn completely under all weeds, grass and other material.
The depth to which the land should be plowed is important.
The many demonstrations conducted in demonstration work
among farmers and in boys' and girls' clubs, has established the
fact that deeply plowed soil, where considerable material is
plowed under, adding humus to the soil, always give the largest
yields. The depth of plowing should be gauged by the depth
of previous plowings. If the land was broken six inches last
year, it should be broken seven or eight inches this year.
If the soil is dry and if the plowing is done at least a month
previous to planting, subsoiling is advisable. Subsoiling consists
in opening up the lower strata of soil. A 4-inch shovel on a
scooter stock running immediately behind a turning plow is as
good a tool as any to use for this purpose. Subsoiling is not
advisable, if the soil is wet and if it is near planting time. How-
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ever, if the breaking is done during fall or winter, subsoilin
The practice prevails among many farmers of bedding th
land for corn a few weeks before planting time. This beddi
consists in throwing up earth over unbroken soil, making be
with balks between, the balks to be broken out at planting ti
As the crop is cultivated the earth is thrown from the bed towa
the plants with a scooter or turn shovel. Three or four cul
nations removes and breaks the original bed and forms anoth
about the corn. This method of corn production has never giv
a large yield because the seed bed is improperly prepared and t
water furrow in the center confines the root system of the gro
ing crop to the bed on which it is growing. Therefore, beddi
is not recommended ordinarily.
On lands, however, subject to overflow during a rainy se
son, it is advisable to have low beds with shallow water furro
between. This bedding should be done on land previously broa
Some farmers plant their corn too early, especially if th
season is late and an unusual amount of rain has fallen. I
the northern and western part of the state corn should not b
planted before April 1. When ready to plant the land shouh
be harrowed or broken so as to form a good dust mulch. I
planting, open furrows four to five feet apart.
The use of a corn planter is highly recommended. The see(
should be dropped about 18 inches apart in fertile soil, but ir
poor soil the seed should be dropped 36 inches apart.
Cover the seed from one to three inches deep, depending o
the soil. The heavier the soil the shallower the seed should b
covered. If the soil is loose, a roller should be run down the
furrow over the seed to pack the earth about them so that good
germination will result.
The type of seed planted has an important bearing on the
yield obtained. There are in the state a variety of soils, and
there are also corns suitable to these different soils. On the
higher pine lands of clay subsoil a flinty dent corn is probably
best; such, for instance, as is found in Gadsden and Jackson
Counties. On the flatiwoods soils the corn known as "Godbey's
Circular 13, Corn Growing Suggestions
or land" is recommended. On the best soils in the southern
rt of the state, as is found in Marion and Volusia Counties, the
noting of what is known as Marion County White is recom-
Before planting the seed should be tested for germination.
Them out either in a box of sand or by the rag-doll method
see if they will sprout. No seed should be planted when less
an 80 out of 100 sprout.
When the little plants begin to show thru the ground the
tire field should be broken very shallow with a weeder or
arrow. The shallow furrow where the plants are growing
wouldd be gradually filled up in cultivating until the field is level.
Frequent cultivations of the growing crop should be made,
Sit is a well recognized fact among all good farmers that fre-
uent cultivations with a shallow tool tends to greatly increase
e crop yield. Some farmers claim that a certain number of
ultivations are equal to a certain amount of commercial fer-
ilizer. This is probably true, as from observation and prac-
ical experience it has been found that frequent cultivation of
he crop is really one of the most necessary things connected
ith the production of corn.
Most farmers practice the laying-by method with this crop.
his laying-by is a relic of by-gone farming methods; it does not
long to modern agriculture. The corn crop should be culti-
ated every six or ten days from the time it comes thru the
ground until the silk begins drying on the ear.
Especially is it necessary to stir the soil after a heavy rain
in order to break the crust and thus prevent drying out of the
soil. If a crust is left unbroken on the land after a rain, mois-
ture evaporation will take place equal to one inch of rainfall for
every eight hours this soil is left exposed to the wind and sun-
A number of farmers are of the opinion that the cultivation
should cease when the corn begins bunching to tassel. This is
an error. Then is the main time to cultivate. Sweeps, working
just as shallow as possible, and shallow-tilling acme harrows are
the best tools to be used in the corn field. A few dollars invested
in improved tools of this nature will come back many fold to the
farmer in increased yields, if they are properly used. The tas-
selling stage is the critical time.
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As the corn is bunching to tassel, if there seems a lack
vigor, an application of about 100 pounds nitrate of soda to
acre, broadcasted in the middles and worked into the soil
cultivation, will be found a good investment.
If it can be afforded, from 400 to 600 pounds of commerce
fertilizer should be broadcasted on each acre at planting. T
amount, however, should depend on the condition of the s
and the probability of getting a good yield. If less than 4
pounds to the acre is applied, it is better to drill it in the furro
in which the seed will be planted and thoroly mix it with t
soil before planting.
If it is not possible to apply commercial fertilizers befo
planting, it can be done afterward, but should be done just
quickly as possible. As before planting, it is better to broadca
the fertilizer, this time between the rows. However, if only
small amount is applied, it may be drilled into the furrows. B
the broadcasting method more roots can come in contact wit
the fertilizer, which is desirable.
LEGUME CROPS IN THE CORN FIELD
For the farmer with a few head of cattle and some hogs th
planting of either cowpeas or velvet beans in the corn crop a
the last working is recommended. In doing this the land is pro
vided with a shade for the hot summer months, which tends t
maintain fertility of the soil and vitality of the crop. Afte
the corn crop is harvested this bean crop can be grazed and
plowed under to add humus to the soil for another crop. Cattle
or hogs pastured should be kept on the land in order that the
droppings will be kept there and not wasted.
This method of crop rotation should appeal to every farmer
growing corn. Some farmers believe in growing peanuts in the
middles. While this method is not endorsed, it is believed that,
where the corn rows are five or six feet apart and peanuts are
planted in the middles about the time the corn is waist high,
satisfactory yields will result. The corn roots at that stage have
taken possession of the soil, and the peanuts, coming on later,
will not tend in any measurable manner to reduce the amount
of corn produced.
FIELD SELECTION OF CORN FOR NEXT YEAR'S CROP
Field selection of seed is very much neglected by farmers,
and yet this is one of the best methods for improving the corn
Circular 13, Corn Growing Suggestions
rop. The field should be carefully gone over, immediately after
he corn is well developed, and ears selected for next year's
eed. Mark these in some way so they can be recognized at
arvesting. At that time the selected ears should be put in a
Fig. 1.-Photograph showing good and bad ears, butts and tips. (1) A
good ear with a good tip. (2) A poor tip. (3) Too much space between
the rows of grains. (4) A very poor butt. (5) A good butt.
place by themselves, preferably on a rack of some kind where
ventilation is good. Sometime during winter they should be
thoroly examined and the best finally selected. The type of
corn and shape of ear best suited to local conditions should be
adopted. Generally speaking no ear should be selected from a
stalk showing abnormal growth or located in an extra fertile
spot. The ears selected should have the tips well covered with
shuck and also have a long neck which lets the ear hang down-
ward during the curing period. If the tip is not well covered
with the shuck it is subject to weevil destruction, and the long
neck allows the water to run off.
By following these suggestions and by selecting seed in the
field, in a few years a farmer can have a good type of corn and
.one suited to his local conditions. And every farmer can do this
for himself, if he goes at it intelligently.
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HARVESTING THE CROP
The habit of pulling fodder should be stopped, as the sma
amourit of feed in the leaves does not make up for the amou
taken from the stalk and ear of corn.
It has been proven that fodder pulling reduces the weig
of the corn yield. The pulling of the leaves stops the growing
of the plant and thus not only reduces it in weight but also re
duces it in feeding qualities.
When the grain shows signs of glazing, the entire cro
should be cut and shocked. The shocking process is simple an
easy. Shocks well made with 125 to 150 stalks to each. an
tightly tied close up to the top will shed all rain and allow th
corn to mature. A much greater food value will result from th
shocking method over the method of pulling fodder.
If the shocks are well made, at the end of four or five week
the corn will have matured thoroly, and then can be remove
to the barn. Here the corn should be removed from the stove
and husked. The stalk and fodder which make up the stove
can be fed to livestock.
CRIBBING THE CORN
Before being placed in the crib the corn should be clean
shucked, or otherwise it will be a harbor for the corn weevil.
To destroy weevils fumigation of corn with carbon bisul-
phide is strongly recommended. The amount of carbon bi-
sulphide to be used is three pints of the liquid to every 200 cubic
feet of crib space. Place the substance in shallow pans on top
of the corn pile and, if the crib is tightly closed, the fumes will
kill the weevils in a couple of days. Open the doors for ven-
tilation and get away, as there is danger of being poisoned by
the gas. A couple of weeks later the process should be repeated,
as weevil eggs in the corn are not affected by the fumigation and
will have hatched out by this time.
REMODELING OLD CRIBS
It is not necessary to build a new crib to protect the corn
against weevils, if one is already on the farm. Where the old
log crib is found, with a little work it can be made sufficiently
air-tight for fumigating purposes.
Before remodeling or attempting to make air-tight, it is
necessary to clean out all the old refuse and trash left from pre-
vious years and to whitewash thoroly the crib as it stands.
Circular 18, Corn Growing Suggestions
rude carbolic should be added at the rate of a half pint to every
n quarts whitewash. The whitewash should be swabbed into
very corner or crevice where weevils and weevil eggs are" likely
o be. All inside chinks and crevices then should be filled up
ith some suitable material, such as packing.
Log cribs have been seen chinked from the inside with pud-
led clay. If the clay is good and if the puddling is done
horoly, making a putty with the consistency of good stiff paste,
vhe job should be satisfactory. Before the clay is applied, the
wood surface should be wet thoroly so that the putty will stick
and make a solid, tight wall. The walls of the crib should be
uilt as uniformly as practical because it is necessary to tack
building paper over the chinking material, thoroly covering the
inside walls, ceiling and floor. A log crib thus remodeled will
give satisfactory results.
An old type frame crib could be made air-tight easily by
using matched lumber for inside. But before putting on the
lumber, the crib should be given a thoro cleaning and a heavy
application of whitewash on the sides, floor and every place
where weevils or weevil eggs might be harboring. The door
opening into the crib should be padded about its edges and lined
with building paper so as to prevent any passing of air. Re-
member that the crib must be as nearly air-tight as is possible.
Every year before storing the new crop the crib should be
cleaned out and all the trash and refuse of every kind burned.
In that way any weevils that may come in on the corn from the
field will be the only ones to do damage and to be destroyed.
Many farmers are careless along this line and leave their cribs
with all the previous year's rubbish and refuse in it, which means
destroying their own corn as weevils and weevil eggs are usually
there in immense numbers ready to commence eating on the
It is estimated that from March 1 until September 1 at least
15 percent of the corn crop of the state is consumed by weevils.
For this reason the corn producing farmer owes it to himself
and his country to make every effort to protect his crop and thus
save this great loss. So far no better means of preventing this
weevil loss is known than by fumigating with carbon bisulphide
in air-tight cribs. By practicing this method the farmer may
have good, sound corn thruout the summer season when his
stock is doing much heavy work.
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Fig. 2.-No farm is complete without a weeder.
Note.-Agricultural extension work for negroes is a part of the pro-
gram of the Agricultural Extension Division of the College of Agriculture,
University of Florida. The negro work is under the supervision of A. A.
Turner, local district agent, with headquarters at the Florida Agricultural
and Mechanical College for Negroes, Tallahassee. Negro farmers desiring
further information on farming should write to the local district agent,
Tallahassee, Florida, or call upon their county advisors.