Knee-high by the Fourth of July? Farmers laugh at that!

BURT, N.Y. (WIVB) — Did you grow up hearing that corn should be growing “knee high by the Fourth of July?” The height of the corn depends on what kind of corn it is, when it was planted, what the weather has been, the irrigation and much more.

Jeff Hiller of Hiller’s Sweet Corn Farm Market in Burt, N.Y., sees this as a very good year for sweet corn.

“I would say the quality is going to be fantastic,” Hiller said.

Farmer Jeff Hiller of Burt, N.Y., checks the growth of his corn crop on July 4.

Standing in one of his corn fields, with the corn tassels waving over his 5’11” frame, Hiller gently laughed at the phrase “knee high by the Fourth of July” and suggested it sprouted from farm lore decades ago, before growing methods and agricultural science changed the landscape for corn farmers.

A quick check on a search engine shows that while the phrase “knee high by the Fourth of July” has become outdated by modern farming methods, it always signaled that the farm was on track for a bountiful harvest. That’s exactly what Hiller sees this year.

He’s about two days away from harvesting his crop of bi-color corn and about two weeks away from bringing in his all-white varieties.

Hiller said the weather varies so widely across Western New York that not all local farmers are seeing the crop growth that he is.

Farmers in the area stay in close contact with each other, Hiller said, and exchange ideas and information about the health of their fields. He pointed out that farmers in the Ransomville area “took a hit “about two weeks ago when heavy rains soaked their fields.

Overall, Hiller was optimistic on this Fourth of July as he looked across the corn fields that his grandfather, Bernard, first tilled in the hamlet of Burt decades ago when he started the family business by setting up a card table in the front yard to sell vegetables.

Today, the Hiller’s Sweet Corn Farm Market had shoppers lined up on this holiday while locally grown sweet corn was being grabbed up for dinner tables. It’s a holiday, but still a workday for Hiller, who headed back to the fields after declaring his corn season so far as “ideal.”

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Jacquie Walker is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1983. See more of her work here.

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