Hand-Operated Corn Planter

Date: 1876

 

Description: This wooden, handheld corn planter was one of the first tools that early pioneers of this area used when planting corn in the fields. Using the handle this planter was driven into the ground, and then corn seeds were deposited into the opening flap and into the ground one hill at a time. It was especially important for early pioneers to have corn planted at a uniform depth so that they could rely on a consistent crop. Using this planter corn could be planted at this uniform depth at a rate of about 3 ½ acres per day, which in the early days of small family farms was incredibly efficient. This particular planter was owned by Mr. Winston Belfrage of Sergeant Bluff.

 

Why did early Iowa farmers choose corn? When the Native Americans introduced early settlers to corn they liked the grain for its high caloric content, which allowed people gain more energy from a smaller amount of grain than wheat. Corn has generally more kernels to an ear than wheat, and can be ground down and used in many of the same ways as wheat. The main issue with growing corn is that the plant needs rich, black soil full of nutrients, which we are lucky to have in abundance on the Iowa plains. In modern days corn has evolved and now has an incredibly variety of uses, from livestock feed to ethanol

 

Donor: The Belfrage family

 

On display