Why so much corn? Vineyards on the Eastern Shore?
What is hay anyway?

Corn is the biggest crop in Chesapeake Country - that is, measured by the number of acres harvested each year. Most of what you see along the road is field corn, used primarily as livestock feed.

The bushy green plants are soybeans, which are grown mostly for poultry feed. Soybeans add nitrogen to the soil and increase its fertility, so most farmers rotate it with other crops. Wheat, hay, ad barley are also major crops.

A stop at a local farmers market or produce stand quickly reveals the diversity of crops grown here - from apples to melons to zucchini.

Well-drained soils are perfect for raising tomatoes. Some varieties are grown for produce and others for catsup, sauces and other products.

Some farmers run Community Supported Agriculture in which buyers subscribe to a weekly delivery of fresh produce directly from their farm.

Yes, those are wine grapes - another way Chesapeake Country farmers are diversifying their crops. Vines take several years before they yeild fruit.

Their roots wrapped in burlap, these young trees are ready to be shipped to garden centers. Nurseries are a major part of the regional economy.

The Tale of Two Corns: Sweet & Field

A buttered ear of corn, that's sweet corn. But 99% of corn acres are field corn, a grain that is harvested when the kernels are dry and fully mature. Sweet corn is spicked when the plants are gree and the kernels sweet and tender. How can you tell the difference in the field? Field corn is usually taller, has bigger leaves and stems, and its tassels are less feathery.

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

A round bale of hay weighs 500 to 2,000 lbs; a small square bale weighs 40-60 lbs. Hay is grasses alfalfa or a mixture of the two. Hay fields are mowed when the plants are green and are most nutritious. Hay is used for forage. Straw is dried stems and stalks, what farmers call “residue” from small grains such as sheat, rye or barley. Straw is used for bedding.