by Katie Olthoff
My Familyâ€™s Corn Farm
Written by Katie Olthoff Designed by Jenn Hindman Printed as a special project of the: Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation Iowa Corn Promotion Board
Hi! My name is Presley, and I live on a farm with my mom, dad, brother, and sister.
Presleyâ€™s family lives in southeast Iowa. Like many other Iowa farmers , they raise crops and livestock. 96% of the farms in the United States are family farms like Presleyâ€™s. Crops: plants raised for food Farmer: someone who grows food or raises livestock Livestock: farm animals, including cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, poultry and others
We grow corn. We also raise pigs and soybeans. The corn we grow is used to feed livestock. It can also be used to make food for people. It can even be turned into fuel for our cars!
Most of the corn grown in the United States is field corn. Field corn is used for livestock feed, fuel, food and thousands of other products. Less than 1% of the corn grown in the United States is sweet corn, which is the kind people enjoy eating. Feed: food for livestock Fuel: a material that produces heat or power
Corn grows well in Iowa and the Midwest. The soil, temperature and rainfall are ideal for corn.
Farming is our family business. My grandparents and great-grandparents were also farmers. Back then, they used horses and small equipment to plant and harvest corn.
Presleyâ€™s family has been farming in this area for 120 years. Growing crops has changed over the years. New seed varieties, new technologies and new scientific research have made farmers more efficient than ever. Efficient: preventing the wasteful use of a particular resource
Now, we use really big machines to plant and harvest corn. The big machines help us do more in less time.
Farm technology has also changed. Instead of using horses or small tractors, the family uses large equipment with GPS (global positioning systems) and automatic steering. This helps increase efficiency, saving fuel, seeds, fertilizer and time. Harvest: gathering crops
Corn seed is planted in rows in the spring. After only a few days, small corn plants sprout and grow from the seeds. The roots grow down into the ground to gather water and nutrients for the plants. The leaves and stalk grow up out of the ground. The new leaves absorb sunlight to help the corn grow.
The corn plant is part of the grass family. The corn kernels are considered grains. In order to help the corn grow, farmers must limit the weeds in the field. Farmers also provide just the right amount of nutrients to feed the plants. Nutrients: something that plants, animals and people need to live and grow
After just a few weeks, the corn is taller than I am! Soon, the ears of corn are growing, too.
During the summer, corn grows very quickly. Sometimes it grows two or more inches per day. The ear of the corn is actually the flower. The kernels are the seeds. The tassel at the top of the plant is a flower, too. It makes pollen to pollinate the ear.
Each ear of corn is surrounded by husk. The husk protects the corn kernels as they grow.
Kernel: small, yellow pieces of corn that grow on the cob; people eat kernels; kernels are the seeds of the corn plant Pollinate: pollen has to be spread from one plant to another in order for the plants to make seeds. For corn, wind spreads the pollen. In other crops bees, butterflies, birds, and other pollinators can spread the pollen.
At the end of the summer, the corn is fully grown. Then, the plant starts to turn brown. When it is all brown and the kernels are dried out, we use a combine to harvest the corn.
Acre: a unit of measuring land; about the size of a football field Bushel: a unit of measuring grain; about the size of a laundry basket In the 1930s, one acre could produce about 30 bushels of corn. In the 1980s, one acre could produce about 120 bushels. Now, one acre produces about 200 bushels.
The combine removes the ears from the stalks. Then the combine takes the kernels off the ears. The kernels are put in wagons and taken to grain bins. They are stored in grain bins until we sell them.
Spring and fall are very busy times for farmers. Farmers plant in the spring and harvest in the fall. They cannot work in the fields if it is rainy or muddy. So they work late into the night and when the weather is dry. Combine: a machine that harvests crops
We keep some of our corn to feed to our pigs. Corn also makes great feed for cattle, chickens and turkeys.
Some of our corn is used to make fuel. Ethanol is used in cars and trucks, just like gasoline. But it is made from corn! Each kernel of corn has four parts that can be used to make a variety of products. The corn starch, fiber, oil, and protein are used for different purposes. Ethanol: fuel that can be made from corn and used like gasoline
Some of our corn is used to make the food and other things that we use every day. All of these things have corn in them!
Foods often contain corn syrup, cornstarch or corn meal. There are more than 4,000 uses for corn. Corn is used in cereal, chewing gum, plastic, makeup and more!
Every year, my family works to become better farmers. We want to grow better crops. We want to take good care of our land. And we want to help protect the environment. Thatâ€™s what farming is all about.
Glossary ACRE: a unit of measuring land; about the size of a football field BUSHEL: a unit of measuring grain; about the size of a laundry basket COMBINE: a machine that harvests crops CROPS: plants raised for food EFFICIENT: preventing the wasteful use of a particular resource ETHANOL: fuel that can be made from corn and used like gasoline FARMER: someone who grows food or raises livestock FEED: food for livestock F UEL: a material that produces heat or power HARVEST: gathering crops KERNEL: small, yellow pieces of corn that grow on the cob; people eat kernels; kernels are the seeds of the corn plant LIVESTOCK: farm animals, including cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, poultry and others NUTRIENTS: something that plants, animals and people need to live and grow POLLINATE: pollen has to be spread from one plant to another by wind in order for the plants to make seeds
Par ts of a Cor n Plant Tassel
the male part of the corn plant which releases pollen
Kernels small, yellow pieces of corn that grow on the cob; people eat kernels; kernels are the seeds of the corn plant
Stalk stem of the plant that transports water, nutrients, and sugars throughout the plants
hair-like structures at the end of the ear which capture pollen from surrounding corn plants
Ear female part of the corn plant that holds the kernels
Leaf attached to the stalk, this structure absorbs sunlight and produces food for the plant through photosynthesis
a group of leaves that surrounds the ear of corn to protect it
Roots take up water and nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium from the soil and keep the plants anchored in the soil
Meet Presley, a farm girl in Iowa who raises corn, soybeans and hogs with her family. Learn how family farmers raise corn through Presley’s eyes, as she takes you on a tour of her family’s farm.