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Corn harvest seen through social media

A survey of social media sources shows that farmers are actively participating in the reporting of the 2011 corn harvest, along with the usual array of news organizations, commodity groups, and agribusiness sources.


A graph produced by of the mentions of the term  “corn harvest”  across social media outlets on Wednesday, October 26, 2011, showed that the topic peaked in late September, and is continuing to rise and fall through October (The grey line represents a “neutral” reference to “corn harvest, the green a positive one, and the red a negative).

Some farmers are using blogs to report to the general public how corn is harvested, and how the crop season is proceeding.  In all, more than 200 blogs mentioned corn harvest over the past month.


On her blog, The Life of a Farmer’s Wife, Stephanie Miller of Boaz, Alabama (right), gives a step-by-step picture of corn harvest, and lends a little different perspective of the role of corn in a crop rotation:  “This year we had 100 acres of corn, which is more than what we usually plant. We only plant corn where cotton and peanuts won't grow very well,” she wrote. 

In a blog, Grandma on the Farm, came this first-person report: “The guys started doing corn last week and I haven't had to help yet! The first fields they worked in had corn that was laid down, twisted and darn right hard to combine in that they couldn't see the rows ahead and had to only guess or try to look ahead and see a root system to help guide them down the rows."

Twitter streams are presenting a time-sensitive, ever-changing picture of the U.S. corn harvest, including harvest progress updates from a farmer perspective. Scores of tweets relate USDA harvest progress reports, which now show the national number at 65 percent complete.

Some reports get more personal and closer to the ground.

“Corn harvest going steady. My neighborhood is dead for some reason? Perhaps everyone is broke down,” tweets Mike Stoner, a Nebraska farmer.

A Minnesota farmer, tweeting as WinterAgGuy, wrote on Wednesday morning: “Finished corn harvest yesterday. A few dry loads to haul to the elevator this morning and hopefully we can knock out some tillage.”

A farm business angle was lent by the FarmlandLetter, tweeting, “owners using flex lease based on crop insurance may see rent bump if projected corn harvest price holds at $6.28/bushel.” 

YouTube holds a large repository of corn harvest videos shot by farmers. Among them is a dramatic time-lapse video by a farmer with the handle Nickel407. The video shows a 12-row combine working in the field from the perspective of the top of a grain dryer. 


In website forums, it’s possible find farm toy collectors reporting on harvest with the use of visual aids, that is, toy trucks, tractors, and combines: “The old John Deere 7700 is chugging away,” says one member of a toy farmer forum. “However the harvest was cut short with the rains. With only a couple more fields to go.”

A new slideshow in features corn harvest photos uploaded by farmers to the social media website, Farmers for the Future. Equipment running in the field is the main focus of the series, showing a wide range of machinery types that younger farmers are working with this fall.

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