Knee High by the Fourth of July? Technology Makes Corn Saying Obsolete


Knee high by the Fourth of July just doesn't cut it.

Corn as tall as the farmer who grows it, now that's a sign of a good crop around Independence Day. So maybe it's time to forget that old saying so many of us grew up with.

"A lot of times we hear knee high by the Fourth of July but that just doesn't seem to apply, hasn't for years," said UNL Extension Educator Jenny Rees.

From Lexington to Hastings, farmers across Nebraska sent NTV photos that show how tall their corn really is, and it's sure not knee high. Maybe chest high or shoulder high is a better way to describe it.

You can attribute that to technology, with advancements in irrigation and more precision planting, and the biggest change is something you can't see. That's the technology in the seed that makes corn more able to withstand drought and stress.

Rees said, "That's attributed to seed industry and what they do on the genetic end."

As of this July Fourth, the USDA says 70 percent of the Nebraska corn crop is in good to excellent condition.

Where things are looking a little rough is where hail and storms have hit.

Mark McHargue is vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau, and was hit by hail on his fields near Central City.

He said, "There's storm damage all along, which is troublesome, but we've had some good rains, and the crops look great where we haven't had storm damage."

But those same storms did bring plenty of rain.

Rees said, "We've been blessed with rains this year, have good moisture down deep in our profile, should help irrigators this season."

Just as we still say "don't touch that dial," or that someone "sounds like a broken record," we'll probably keep saying "knee high by the Fourth of July,"another phrase made obsolete by technology.

If we're going to retire the saying, we could always go back to the lyrics from the song "Oh What a Beautiful Morning", where it says the corn "is high as an elephant's eye."