Question about Cutting Corn Stalks (by hand)

Blanket, TX(Zone 7b)

Hello everyone,

I asked this in another thread I frequent and they suggested I ask you folks here on Farm Life. :-)

I have a small garden and a patch of field corn in it. The corn has been picked and now I want to let my cornstalks dry so I can tie them into bundles for Autumn decorating in the yard (kind of like sheaves, you know).

Is it easier/better to let them stand in the field til dry or to cut them now and set them aside somewhere to finish drying? Also, do I pull them or cut them? And what is the best thing to cut the stalks with? I have never done this before so I am clueless!

Thanks in advance for all advice :-)

Tina

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Tina ~ as I recall from long ago days on the farm, you can cut them while green with a machete'. When dry I remember them being hard to cut in that manner and pulling would be easier. If you have a limb lopper and a small patch, that would be easier to use.

Waddy, KY

Get yourself a tobacco tommahawk. That should cut any cornstalk that comes in it's path! :-)

I think you'd be better preservation wise to cut them after they've dried. Bundling them green I would think would heat them up and possibly have them rot and smell. Just my opinion though.

Janet

Blanket, TX(Zone 7b)

Podster and Janet, thank you both! I will leave them until dry and tackle them then. I'll try to remember to let you know how it turns out. :-)

Tina

Langley, WA(Zone 7b)

I have many times gone to farms and ask to cut their cornstalks for decorations. I don't remember how dry they were, just that it was in October. This year I planted my own. It's not real hot here (usually, today is an exception, it's sweltering), so I may not get any corn but I'm gonna have mucho stalks for decorating!

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

If you get much rain, the leaves will get spotty and ugly. You might try cutting and hanging under cover like tobacco, so the stalks are separated to allow for airflow.

I've just used my loppers.

If you get to planting lots of corn, in the old by-hand days, there used to be a knife set-up that strapped to the ankle and the folks would just walk down the rows and kick it across the base of the stalk. I've just seen pictures... anyone here actually seen it done?

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Never seen it done but you can still buy the corn knives... http://www.lehmans.com/store/Tools___Farm___Farming___Helpers_and_Utilities___Foot_Mount_Corn_Knife___FC?Args=

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

I'll just bet dollars to donuts there's a trick to it... there always is. Something that becomes so second nature no one ever thinks to mention it...

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Their description says a "swift kick"... wouldn't we all be good at that some days! Anyone who has mastered the corn knife would be a formidable opponent.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Makes me want to grow corn just so's I can practice!

Blanket, TX(Zone 7b)

Oh my - THAT is interesting! That's what I love about Dave's Garden - there's always such amazing knowledge. Even if I never use one I will now know what corn knives are :-)

As it turned out, I didn';t have to cut it myself and I don't know what the man used who did cut the stalks. They are laying aside now and later this month I will tie them into "cute bundles". Heh.

Have a great week everyone,

Tina

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Our corn knife is just an old one with a wooden handle, but you can get pretty good at that, too. The second or third year we were on this farm, it was so wet, we couldn't chop part of one field for silage. We ended up picking it by hand - talk about the hard life! We took the cobs to the local grist mill and had it ground into cow grain, the stalks stood out in the field and look forlorn.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Makes me itch just thinking about getting in the corn fields again...

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

What kind of itch would that be, podster... an itch to leave or an itch to stay?

I know folks who spent summers de-tasseling corn and their itch was to scratch and leave. LOL

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Certainly not an itch to do that again. It gives me the same type of itch that an okra patch will deliver. Almost like noseeums ~ itches like the devil.

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

don't forget the sneezes that go with the itches - - -

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

So, the {{{ itches }}} weren't my youthful imagination?

I honestly don't recall sneezing... maybe no sneezing memories as we would harvest young field corn for eating and canning in those days. Perhaps not as much pollen in the early stages.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

My eyes would about swell shut...
and that was just walking through my home patch when the corn was in full tassle. Aargh!

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

We don't raise any corn at all. Stan is highly allergic to it. I can eat it, but the pollen puts me into a full blown allergic reaction . Tough, considering our occupation.

This message was edited Sep 5, 2009 6:18 AM

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Wow ~ I've heard of peanut allergies till we think it is common but not corn. That is a though one to work around on a farm. Sorry for you both!

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