Weatherbury Farm Grain Tracker
From Planting to Harvest, Wapsie Valley Corn (Cornmeal and Polenta) in the field:
Plowing and Harrowing (harrowing smooths the field after plowing) the seed bed for the corn.
Planting the Wapsie Valley Corn
Corn has germinated. 10 days after planting.
13 days after planting. Rotary Hoeing the corn.
44 days after planting. Cultivating the corn. Because there wasn’t much rain, the corn was growing somewhat slower than normal.
Because we are certified organic we do not use glyphosate (which you may know as RoundUp) to keep the weeds down in the corn field. Instead we cultivate the corn.
Despite the earlier lack of rain, the corn was much higher than the old maxim “knee high by the 4th of July.”
Cornmeal and Polenta in the field!
The carbon footprint of all our milled products is tiny because we grow the grains on our farm (as opposed to purchasing them from North Dakota as many small mills do). In 2023, our corn traveled a 1/4 mile from the field were it was grown to our mill.
When we pick seed corn, our object is to choose corn that will grow on the heartiest stalks possible .
The farmers look for plants where the corn ears hang lower on the stalk, the stalks are bigger diameter and have brace roots (2nd tier roots) which help to stabilize the corn stalk. We also select ears that point downward as they shed water.
The harvested seed corn shows the different colors of Wapsie Valley Corn which make our cornmeal and polenta visually interesting as well as tasty.
Corn for milling l is harvested when it is completely dry.
We use our 1980 Gleaner Combine to harvest all of our grains and beans. In between crops, the grain bin on the combine is thoroughly cleaned out and settings are adjusted as necessary for the next crop.
You might ask why we use a 1980 combine. Smaller combines like ours have not been available for sale in the US since 1986 (although they are in Europe). This means we spend more time in the shop most years with our combine than in the field. Just a fact of life in the rolling hills of southwest PA.
While the corn is being combined, it is stored in the bin on the combine. Periodically, the corn is unloaded into a gravity wagon. Three sides of the wagon are slanted at about 45 degrees, which makes unloading the wagon easier — as it flows by gravity.
Hampschen Maria, one of the farm’s mecatnics oversees the cleaning of the combine by Dale and Nigel
Wapsie Valley Corn Facts 2023
In 2023, Wapsie Valley Corn was grown in Independence Township on our home farm. The farm is part of a 436 acre grant (known as Extravagance) surveyed to John Doddridge on April 6,1786. According to the Caldwell Atlas , the farm was established by M.T. Murdock in 1825. Murdock is listed as a farmer, grain, stock and wool grower (with 150 sheep). The farm was later a dairy operation (the Patterson family: 1945-1966) and a cattle operation (the Eastham family: 1966-1986). In 2008, we began raising historical grains on both the home farm and neighboring farms. The grains were certified organic in 2009 . In April 2014 Weatherbury Farm began stone-grinding flour. Weatherbury Farm also raised grass fed beef. organic in 2015.
The corn was planted on three fields totaling acres on May 16, 2023 .
In a “normal” year, our goal is to rotary hoe the corn twice and cultivate it twice. In 2023, we rotary hoed the corn once and cultivated it once..
As Nigel was milling a record amount of flour for our November pickup, the Wapsie Valley Corn was not harvested until November 29, 2023.
At the 2021 Washington County Fair, Weatherbury’s Wapsie Valley Corn stalks placed 2nd (but in four previous years, our stalks placed 1st —2022, 2021, 2017 and 2016 — beating all the GMO corn in the county). The corn ears won first place and the jar of corn won 2nd place.
And as to taste — cornbread made with Weatherbury’s cornmeal and pastry flour won 3rd place in 2023. The cornbread has placed at the county fair 8 out of the past 9 years (four 1st place, three 2nd place and one 3rd place).
For an illustrated explanation of how Weatherbury grains become flour, visit the from seed to flour page.
About Wapsie Valley Corn
Wapsie Valley Corn is an open-pollinated heirloom dent corn dating back to the 1850s. It produces ears of either all coppery red or all dark yellow kernels.
Corn is a spring planted crop. Because Weatherbury Farm is organic, we rotary hoe and cultivate the corn to lessen the impact of weeds.
Products Milled from Wapsie Valley Corn
Polenta and cornmeal are both milled from Wapsie Valley corn, which has both a visual and flavor punch.
During the past eight years, cornbread made with Weatherbury’s cornmeal and sifted pastry flour has won four first place ribbons and three second places at the county fair.
Health Benefits of Corn
Corn is a rich source of vitamins A,B,E and minerals (phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and copper). With a high fiber content, it plays a significant role in preventing digestive ailments. It is rich in phytochemicals which provides protection against a number of chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
To read more about polenta and cornmeal, please visit our products page.
More information on corn and other grains grown at Weatherbury Farm are on the grains we grow page.