Video

Corn Harvest 1930-style

I’ve been working on a harvesting scene.

That’s code for watching YouTube videos.

But have I found some interesting harvest tidbits to share:

iron pegs

  • Today, farmers use machines, of course, but in 1929 many farmers still worked the land with horses.  The new tractors were expensive. Case in point: the average per capita income for American farmers in 1929 was $273; the cost for a new McCormick-Deering Farmall tractor was about four times as much.
  • The interesting contraptions in the picture are corn husking knifes or pegs. Farmers wore one strapped around their wrist so they could slice through the corn husk and release the cob in one fluid motion, after which they would heave the cob into their wagon before moving on to the next husk. It was slow, dirty work.
  • Wholesale price of wheat in 1920: $2.45 per bushel
    … in 1921: $1.30 per bushel
    … in 1932: 49 cents per bushel

Lucky for me, there are farmers today that like to keep the old ways alive; they host regular Corn Husking Competitions, like the one in the video. That particular contest was held in York, NE, in 2009—in the snow!—confirming that Rose’s husband is right to be concerned about getting his harvest in before bad weather arrives.

I still haven’t figured out how long it would take to harvest a 40-acre field using this method. One recent contestant in 2012 was able to harvest, by himself, 322 pounds in just 20 minutes. (That seems like a LOT. Keep in mind the most corn I’ve handled has been a dozen ears of sweet corn for a summer supper.)

There’s some math involved in figuring out how those numbers correlate to bushels and then to typical corn yields. Of course, I don’t really know what all that really means. Do you?

If so, shoot me some numbers. A few equations… Math I can do!

3 thoughts on “Corn Harvest 1930-style

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