“Knee high by the Fourth of July,” is what you commonly hear said around these parts; all around the farmville’s in corn belt. There is no clear explanation when, where or why the phrase started. But even with its uncertain origins, it sticks around as a simple rhyme that people love to say. I think back in the day it meant that your crop was looking good to see such progress in growth by Independence Day.
One could argue that the phrase doesn’t really apply anymore given how much plant breeders have improved the genetics of corn. Cross breeding plants for more than a century to make it grow better is the reality we see before us now. Better genetics make the days of knee-high corn in early July long gone, except for when Mother Nature cuts the geneticist down a peg…like this year.
Last year we had unseasonably warm weather in March/April which yielded freakishly huge Frankenstein corn by the 4th of July. I don’t think I have ever seen corn so big.
There has been much chatter worldwide regarding GMO‘s. Shopping guides have been created to help you avoid GMO’s – yes there is an app too. I must say that everything I have read and heard concerns me a great deal. How much is enough? This may sound harsh, but why do we have to feed the world – or try to? Something is going to give and it is going to be ugly.
What’s the problem with GMO’s?
Genetic engineering modifies the DNA of crops to display specific traits, such as a resistance to pesticides and herbicides. Genetically engineered (GE) crops are often also referred to as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or biotech crops.In recent years, the Food and Drug Administration began paving the way for approval of GE animals, such as salmon. The first genetically engineered animal approved for human consumption, supporters of GE salmon claim it grows at twice the normal rate. The approval of GE salmon could open the floodgates for GE cows and pigs, which biotech companies are waiting in the wings to finally commercialize after years of research and development.
Not to be outdone by the FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been busy for several years approving more GE crops. In 2010, the department announced it would allow unrestricted growing of GE alfalfa, which blocks farmers from the export market, since many countries won’t accept GE-contaminated crops. The USDA has also “partially deregulated” GE sugar beets and approved a new type of GE corn that is designed to be facilitate ethanol production, and is considering GE crops that are designed to work with more aggressive types of herbicides.