Why would a farmer replow and replant fields of corn?
June 15, 2016 5:52 AM   Subscribe

I drive past multiple small farms on my way to work every day. All of the farms plowed and planted their corn several weeks ago. One farm in particular had already planted, the corn was growing in its little rows, etc. But then one morning this farm's fields were empty again-- completely replowed. Now, a short time later, a new crop of new corn is growing. Why? Why would a farmer decide to scrap multiple fields of a crop that is already growing? I've been seriously tempted to knock on the farmhouse door and ask, because I'm so very curious about what would justify the expense and lost growing time. Help me understand with your agri-wisdom!

In case knowing is useful, the crop that got scrapped was up to about six inches high when it disappeared.
posted by a fiendish thingy to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
maybe he planted the wrong type of corn than he planned on selling.
posted by INFJ at 5:55 AM on June 15, 2016

This is known as replanting your corn stand and is a calculated decision by the farmer based on weather, soil conditions, and other farmers that were probably different than their assumptions going into the season. The yield of a replant may dwarf the cost of replanting.
posted by scrittore at 6:06 AM on June 15, 2016 [35 favorites]

Maybe it wasn't corn but some other grain that s/he tilled into the soil to nourish it. This is often done with winter rye, but it's not planted in rows like corn. Maybe the corn s/he planted got a disease so was replaced with corn immune to that disease. If you're in the US call your local county cooperative extension agent who should be able to give you a much more informed answer.
posted by mareli at 6:07 AM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

There have been some surprisingly late season frosts this year in parts of the country. Frost damage may not always kill corn but can slow growth enough that it might have been better for the farmer to plant new undamaged corn than hope the damaged corn would be ok.
posted by wwax at 6:53 AM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Monsanto and the seed police knocked on his door?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:53 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's not Monsanto. As others have said up thread this is often done for weather related reasons. In addition to the possibility of frost, part of the field may have been been flooded after planting which can significantly depress yields. If that is the case, they may try to replant the spot but sometimes it makes more sense to just redo the entire field.
posted by nolnacs at 8:40 AM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Some great responses here, and I'll second calling the cooperative extension. Those folks are a fount of information.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:40 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Although almost certainly not the answer to your specific question, in some areas maize is planted for silage and reaped before it is fully mature.
posted by Emma May Smith at 10:17 AM on June 15, 2016

Also, farmers often have crop insurance, so, the cost of replanting might be covered.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:47 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

What was the weather like just before it was plowed under? Hail is usually too spotty to take out an entire field, but can completely destroy a corn crop wherever it falls and its not unheard of to replant the entire thing. If it is weather damage, neighboring farms will show it (curling leaves, pale color, uneven growth across the field).
posted by Ookseer at 4:07 PM on June 15, 2016

Thanks for all the responses! Especially to scrittoire for the link-- it was really interesting.

The original crop was definitely corn-- some of them around the field edges escaped the replanting, and they are normal two foot high cornstalks at this point. No hail or frost preceded the plowing under that I can recall, but we had an absurdly rainy May, and both fields are much closer to wetland areas than other local farms, so maybe everything was just too wet.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:02 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

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