Farm For Art’s Sake
The grower behind the Corn Palace’s color.
For nearly 15 years, Wade Strand has been the farmer behind the Corn Palace’s maze of color. Planting up to a dozen different colors of corn annually, he harvests the crop for the artists who create the facility’s intricate murals.
Stand’s first venture into the crop was as a subcontracted producer for the person who actually segregated the colors. However, for the last five years, he had the full contract due to the previous grower’s retirement. He does it with a vintage New Idea pull-type corn picker, a brand purchased by AGCO Corporation in 1993.
“Growing specialty corn isn’t much different than growing conventional corn, except for the lower plant population and the need to put each color in a separate field,” says Strand, who also grows about 350 acres each of field corn and soybeans and around 200 acres of certified seed wheat. “Of course, because the colored corn is all open pollinated, it doesn’t yield very well. But that isn’t the goal.”
Instead, Strand strives to produce the long, well-filled ears that work best for mural production. Even then, only about 10% of the crop actually goes to the Corn Palace.
“I’ll usually pick a load at a time, then sort through it by hand to pull out the best ears, which tend to be consistent in size from one end to the other,” he says. “The rest of it gets ground up and fed to my cow herd.”Show Full Article