When folks had large crops of soybeans, they would walk the rows of beans usually using a bean hook or corn knife
to get rid of errant weeds that would compete with the soybeans for nutrients.
For those who didn't grow up in farm country years ago, walking beans is accomplished carrying a big corn knife
to chop down weeds and volunteer corn trying to crowd out the bean plants in those long rows.
I began helping in the corn harvest by cutting the corn stalks into arm-sized bundles with a corn knife
. Around 1950, we got a one-row machine that cut the corn stalks and gathered and tied them into bundles of approximately 20 to 30 stalks.
Then you went through with a corn knife
or hoe to chop the weeds the cultivator had missed.
Corn stalk cutter used in lieu of a hand-held corn knife
when shocking corn.
I was just in town looking for a bench grinder for my garden tools and in particular what we always called a "corn knife
" here in Southwest Minnesota.
If this process seems labor intensive, compare it to the process it replaced, in which a corn knife
was used to cut stalks for shocking.
A bell hog scraper is best for this work if you have or can find one, but a dull knife, an old corn knife
or a piece of broken jar is satisfactory.
Today, when 12- and 18-row combines chew swiftly through 100-acre corn fields, it's difficult to imagine how, less than 100 years ago, a farmer and his son (see related article, page 11) could tackle 10 or 20 acres of corn armed only with a wooden horse and a corn knife
apiece, along with a supply of rye straw or a ball of binder twine with which to tie the cut stalks into shocks.
To do the job by hand, use a machete or a corn knife
Carl also collects corn items (a handsome display mounted on weathered barn boards included a corn knife
, thumbstall and husking pegs) and slip scrapers, slosh buckets and slushers.
Another form of old-fashioned corn knife
is foot mounted: a good kick cuts the stalk, eliminating bending, and leaving both hands free to gather stalks.