Farmers Deserve A Salute Too

| 7/2/2014 8:48:00 AM

Country MoonWhen this time of year rolls around, people pause to remember what a great country we live in and all that we have to be thankful for. We salute all those who fought to make sure this country remained free all these years, and we don’t take that freedom lightly.

There is another group that deserves our praise, and midsummer seems like the perfect time to reflect on that group, American farmers. While we need people in every profession, the one thing everyone has in common is we all eat. From grains to meats to fruits and vegetables, we owe thanks for every meal to America’s farmers.

Some things never cease to amaze me. Recently, I was weeding the garden and thinning the sweet corn as we planted it a little too thick. As I pulled the young seedlings out, I noticed how they were still attached to the seed. It’s pretty incredible how one stalk of corn comes from one tiny seed.

It gets even more phenomenal. One kernel produces one stalk of corn, which in turn produces one or two ears. One silk is attached to each kernel allowing it to receive pollen. An ear has between 400 and 600 kernels arranged in 16 rows. (This is why when you eat four rows at a time off an ear of sweet corn the empty cob looks square instead of round!) One bushel of corn contains 90,000 kernels. When farmers plant corn, they sow between 28,000 and 45,000 seeds per acre and that acre in turn produces an average of 170 bushels of corn. All of this comes from one little seed. Wow!

Wheat is another staple grain that America uses in abundance. For all of us carb-lovers who cannot live without bread, pizza and cookies, wheat is our friend. The “amber waves of grain” from the song “America the Beautiful” refers to acres of golden wheat swaying in the breeze. It blows my mind to even try and correlate the number of cups of flour that Americans use per day to how much wheat it takes to make a cup of flour.

One stalk of wheat can produce up to 200 grains. It takes between 5 ounces to 1 cup of wheat, depending on the variety and density, to make 1 cup of flour. A bushel contains 60 pounds of wheat with an average of 16,000 grains per pound. That equals 960,000 grains per bushel, and an average wheat yield is 56 bushels per acre.

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