Friday, January 18, 2013

Herman Warsaw

Herman Warsaw was one of the first farmers to break 300 bushels of corn per acre 35 years ago.  He truly was a pioneer in growing high yield corn.  I wandered over to his farm one summer when I was a young man and his corn was even better than the corn dad and I had raised beside the cattle loafing shed.

Joel Gruver at Western Illinois University just converted those http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wn-LDU1RJ0s ols VHS tapes so now we can all see his great advice and wisdom.  Even if it is 40 years old, many of his tips work today like soil fertility and soil tilth for example.

Herman had great soils, better than our older Illinoian Glacial Till Soils on his Wisconsin Till Plain.  Saybrook Silt Loam was named after his town, Saybrook, Illinois.  It is just north and west of Champaign, Illinois and I still love to stick my hands in that soil.  I got to do that once more on my trip home from Farm to Plate Conference in Riverside, Iowa.  Everyone seemed to get near his yield level in that area in the last decade but their yields have been going downhill the last five or six years.  There are many reasons for that we won't discuss here today.

I remember the 1066 IHC tractor in the videos but I don't remember the big Massey V8.  Maybe he didn't have it yet when I was there, I don't know.  In fact I thought he had a 1206 IHC so maybe I was there a few years earlier.

Herman's name has been brought up many times on Crop Talk since its inception but it has come up again as University researchers can't produce the yields Herman did 40 years ago.  Everyone wants to know why?  Again there are many reasons but one noticeable difference is GMO corn had not been invented when Herman farmed.  I don't know if that is the reason for the yield differences or not but it sure makes me think. 

Here is another link where you can read more about Herman.  https://www.google.com/#hl=en&tbo=d&sclient=psy-ab&q=herman+warsaw+corn&oq=herman+warsaw+&gs_l=hp.1.1.0l2j0i10i30j0i30.0.0.1.38.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0.les%3B..0.0...1c.ukrXbvlO46k&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.41248874,d.b2U&fp=43632ea51b4889a4&biw=1896&bih=894

Since I am having problems imbedding the link in my text I will leave it here until I can fix this later.  I wanted you to catch up on the talk of high yield corn going around.

I am no Herman Warsaw but I can help improve corn yields.  I think we all can but not by doing what we have done in previous years.

Ed

8 comments:

  1. Awesome documentary. See, even your less fertile new farm can be improved to such levels!

    374 bu/a without GMOs is one thing, but no GPS? You've got to laugh at this 30-year old video when you see the guy driving his tractor and combine with these things on the wheel, what are they called already? Ah yes, hands! ;)

    Wow, with the raging battle about GMOs and the fact that they could be patented since 1980, I had stupidly assumed that GMO corn was already available in the 80s, given the frequent pro-GMO argument saying we've had it for dozens of years and see: nothing bad happened to our health. But while the technology was available since the 70s, the first trials for corn happened only in the 80s and the first commercially available GMO corn seed dates back from 1996 only. That's, what, 14-15 years before it first found its way in our food chain via animal feed, maybe a dozen years since it became prevalent.
    Even the first commercially available GMO, a tomato, was approved by the USDA in 1992 only.

    Not sure his continuous corn practice is ecologically correct, but he sure made it work for him, that and his high yield even in drought years make him even more remarkable than a 374 bu/a record.

    Pretty sure he wouldn't have needed GMOs anyway, his black soil looks so healthy that I can't imagine a corn plant getting sick in it! And he seems to manage the weeds alright too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is, isn't it? I miss those days but enjoy having grandchildren, too. I think it is good we are talking about Herman and no GPS ano no GMO! Just think we if we had small farms again like the 50's and teachers like Herman we could double corn production and maybe food production!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am pro-gmo. It's a tool that I hope will help with feeding the world in my lifetime. I would bet that as progressive as Herman was he would have been a user of bt corn. Especially considering his lodging issues. Furthermore, I would imagine his yield of 370 would have been 10-30% higher (410-480) had he the varieties we have today.

    Very interesting subject. Thank you for posting about it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Learn about what is happening with gmo corn.

    dwarf mature stalks
    plants leaking from black lesions
    leaves turn pink as corn dies prematurely
    glyphosate found in non GMO corn and seed
    glyphosate found in manure and DDG's.

    Ed

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