September 22, 2022
Look at the picture accompanying this article. It’s an old-fashioned ear corn crib, with crib space on both sides and an open aisle down the middle. How many bushels of corn could you fit inside the crib?
Depending on how old you are, perhaps you’re scratching your head. Ear corn? Who cribbed ear corn, especially in wooden cribs?
Lots of people did, and a few still do today. Before combines made shelling corn in the field feasible in the mid-1900s, corn cribs were the mainstay for storing corn. That driveway in the middle isn’t just for convenience. With both doors open on the ends, it provided airflow to finish drying corn. Ear corn was often cribbed above 15.5% and allowed to finish drying in the crib. This avoided drying charges, but if you started too early or corn didn’t dry down, and the moisture was up around 22% to 25%, you could end up with storage problems.
The Purdue University Corn & Soybean Field Guide still shows a picture of ear corn in a wire crib, on Page 40 in the 2022 edition, but it doesn’t give any advice on estimating how much corn an ear corn crib holds. A bushel of ear corn weighs about 70 pounds. Shelled and off the cob, it’s the same as regular shelled corn at 56 pounds.
So, to answer our question of how many bushels will fit in the crib, turn back the calendar to 1951. The popular Farmer’s Pocket Ledger, 35th annual edition for 1951, issued by John Deere, contains all sorts of helpful information. My copy, an original and an early Christmas present this year from my sister-in-law Carma Foster, was originally issued to John Deere customers compliments of Peru Feed & Farm Equipment Co. in Peru, Ind.
One of the tidbits of useful information inside is a chart on capacity of corn cribs, assuming a 10-foot-high crib and “dry corn.” So, if you backed up a John Deere stationary sheller to it in the spring, that’s how many bushels you should shell out.
The crib pictured is about 32 feet long, and the cribs on each side are about 8 feet wide. So, each of the twin cribs should hold 1,024 bushels, according to the 1951 pocket ledger, or 2,048 bushels for the whole building. And yes, if you backed up an old Minneapolis-Moline corn sheller to the crib, the kind I grew up scooping ear corn into, you would still haul off the same 2,048 bushels of shelled corn.
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