How High Should Corn REALLY Be By the 4th of July?

Moving to the Midwest can seem like a huge culture shock at first. Especially if you come from the East Coast like myself, you'll be startled by a few major differences between the two types of cultures. Besides the whole #IowaNice thing (which still blows me away), there are a few phrases and sayings that I had to have someone explain to me.

For me, the strangest and most interesting saying that I've learned so far is, "Knee high by the fourth of July."

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This phrase is in reference to the height that the corn crop ought to be by this point in early July. To someone who has never worked a single day on a farm, this seems right to me. However, when I asked a friend who manages a farm whether or not that is really the case...boy, did I learn how wrong I was.

@abbeyminkeKnee high by the 4th of July #fyp #4thofjuly #minnesota #summer #corn #goals♬ Independence Day - Martina McBride

Should It Be Knee High by July?

This Iowa native told me straight up that having corn "knee high" at this time is very, very bad. Decades ago, having the crop at this height would be a sign of a good harvest for that year. Many years later, earlier planting seasons, and improved agricultural technology has changed this.

Farmers now have better hybrids of corn, capability to efficiently plant more crops, and can even deal with pests on a whole new level, so this previous measurement is no longer accurate. Now, officials from the Iowa Corn Growers Association say that with the right conditions your corn crop could be about 8 feet tall by early to mid July.

But I Love The Rhyme Scheme...What Do I Say Now?

Well, you don't need to give up on having a fun little rhyme to help you measure this crop. Just trade "knee high by the fourth of July" for "as high as an elephant's eye." This is a line from the musical Oklahoma! ,specifically the song 'Oh, What A Beautiful Morning.'

The exact lyrics are:

There’s a bright, golden haze on the meadow.
The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye
And it looks like it’s climbing clear up to the sky.

If your corn is as high as an elephant's eye or knee high by the 4th, all you really need to remember is to share that sweet corn with the rest of us.


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