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I've never picked corn by hand, but have been thinking of using my team and wagon to try that.
One person told me he remembered doing it with two other people, one person on the right of the wagon picking two rows, one person on the left of the wagon picking two rows and one person in front of the wagon picking two rows. I got to thinking that didn't seem quite right, as I always thought the wagon had a "bang board" on one side where the picking person threw the ear, the ear hit the board and then fell into the wagon. That obviously wouldn't work with a person picking and throwing from each side. It also seems a person would have to be a very good "pitcher" for many ears not to miss the 38" or 42" wide wagon box.
Also, it seems one would almost have to work one way around the field or the bang board would be on the wrong side each time one turned around.
Would a picker usually pick two rows at a time?
Would the wagon be close to the picker so it would knock down the stalks after the ears were picked? If not, it seems to me it'd be very difficult to throw ears "through" stalks that had already been picked.
Perhaps my descriptions and questions are not very clear. Never having picked corn by hand or seeing it done, I'm just saying I really don't have much of any idea of how it is done.
Thanks for your knowledge and ideas and info. kelly

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2017-07-27 08:16:47 (CST)

I pick most of my ear corn by hand. I only plant 3 to 5 acres a year. I actually look forward to doing it.
I tie my lines to the wagon rack. I pick two rows at a time. The wagon is right next to the first row being picked. I walk between that row and the one next to it. I pick the length of the wagon, then move the horses ahead. Lots of stopping, starting and standing for them.
I don't use a bang board because it's not a long throw for me as I pitch the ears into it.
If I have help, they pick the row or rows next to me. The farther you get from the wagon, the more you need a bang board, just to improve your accuracy. Sometimes, my helpers just pick into 5 gallon buckets and dump them into the wagon.
I am slow, but steady. My goal is to have the corn in the crib by Thanksgiving. Picking slow gives me the time to enjoy the season, the horses and the company of those who come to help.
Once I complete a round, the horses walk where I just finished picking. We keep going like this around and around the field until its done. The horses do occasionally munch on the leaves or fodder, but not enough to cause problems.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2017-07-27 08:29:12 (CST)

I hope this is a better picture showing the team and wagon next to the row of corn being picked

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2017-07-27 14:41:22 (CST)

Of course you need to have a team that doesn't walk away while you are picking and throwing!

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2017-07-28 11:32:51 (CST)

Klaus is right. I will say though that making them stop, stand and start is good for them. They will get the hang of it. Just make sure when you say whoa, you mean it. Don't let them take a few more steps or sort of "coast" to a stop. Whoa means STOP. This lesson will come in very handy in almost every aspect of horse farming.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

DaveE says 2017-07-28 18:19:51 (CST)

most pickers never look at wagon thus a bang board is needed they keep their eyes on the next ear of corn just flip ear up and over with a wrist action . Contest pickers pick one row at a time. My grandpa always picked two but the corn wasnt as thick then Several states have picking contest this year
Missouri has both the state and the nationals in Marshall

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

kellyintx says 2017-07-29 13:02:06 (CST)

Thanks to all for your replies. Dave, thanks for all that info. It is what I need. Thanks so much. By the way, do you know WHEN the Missouri event will happen this fall?
And, Klaus, I'm sure you're right about the team needing to respond to voice commands. I ALWAYS use voice commands, but I'm sure too that my team could be better at responding to my voice commands.
Here's my thinking about training:
While a "refresher" to their round pen training about the stop within one step would be helpful, I don't have a round pen, so am thinking that I'll get a friend/experienced driver to sit in the wagon while everything is lined up on the row. Then, that person can stop the team if needed, but after the team getting used to the sounds and stopping and going, I'll have the driver wrap the lines around the dally pole (but still stay in the seat so they could stop the team if necessary) and I'll work on voice commands with the team.
I can't imagine how getting the team to respond to voice commands alone won't make them a much better team. I think this could be a "win-win" situation for all of us.
Thanks again to each of you for your responses. You're a big help! kelly

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

kellyintx says 2017-07-29 13:07:01 (CST)

DaveE, thanks for the info on the events in Missouri this fall.
Ralph, I see you are using what I call a hay rack (with sides) and that is much wider than the 36" high wheel wagon I have, so I think I'll try to make some side board (bang board) for mine IF I am able to try picking.
Thanks again to all INCLUDING Klaus!!! kelly

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Neal in Iowa says 2017-07-30 21:23:57 (CST)


When you make your bang board, it you make it with vertical 1 by 3's that are about 12" longer than the bang board (near each end and maybe one in the middle), you can slip it over the box side. Then you can move it to the other side for the return trip. From the end would look something like this (outer vertical lines would connect) | | |
| |

Use a board that is the same thickness as the wagon box for the ban board (or shim to the same thickness)


1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

DaveE says 2017-07-31 19:32:45 (CST)

This years picking contest in Missouri starts on October 20 for the state and the Nationals will be on the 21. Also note that all the wagons used are pulled by teams

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

K.C. Fox says 2017-08-01 21:10:30 (CST)

grandad never moved his bangboard it was always on the left side of the wagon box. he said keep your head down looking for the next ear when everything was going good there was one ear in hand one ear in the air and one hitting the bangboard. I helped him pick his last corn crop in 1960.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Charlie says 2017-08-04 19:53:59 (CST)

Picking corn with my donkeys has been one of the highlights of the season here on the farm in recent years. It's been very gratifying teaching them to stand well and tolerate all the noise and rustling. A few times I have gotten a donkey to step forward on voice command so I can stay in the field. I grow open-pollinated corn and it's especially magical when you find those few perfect ears that you want to save for seed. I love it!

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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