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Friday, May 10, 2013

Flat Aggie Adventures in Delaware

Flat Aggie's host this week is a new friend of mine in Delaware that I met at a soybean association meeting.  Cory originally wrote a post about his watermelon production and then I asked him to take part in the Flat Aggie Project.  I am so glad that he graciously agreed to help with this project.  I can honestly say that the diversity of this post was not something I expected.  I think you will really enjoy this post.  -KFM

Dear Mrs. Piatt and First Grade class,

I am writing you today from the First State; Delaware. I spent most of my time in Sussex county in the town of Laurel which consists of roughly 3,700 people. In the time I spent here I have seen and done so much. I never knew there was so much agriculture in one of the smallest states.
·         Nearly 40% of the land is in Agriculture use
·         Nearly 90% of the Farms are Family Owned
·         Sussex County is No.1 County in the U.S. for Poultry Production
·         Humid Climate with hot summers and mild winters
·         Poultry, Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, and Dairy Products are the top 5 Commodities, although 35 other vegetable crops are grown as well
·         One of the leading States for Baby Lima bean Production

·         Is a Peninsula
·         Consist of approximately 2,500 farms totaling 510,253 acres

While I am here I am visiting Cory’s Produce, LLC in southern Delaware. Here at Cory’s Produce they produce Field Corn, Soybeans, Barley, Wheat, Grain Sorghum, Watermelons, Peas, Lima Beans, squash, cucumbers, cantaloupes, tomatoes, raise poultry and operate a custom application business. 

Peas are planted in late winter into early spring.

Peas are a short season crop.  They are machine harvested and frozen which will be completed by early July. After the peas are harvested, a second crop will be planted.

The second crop referred to as a double crop and will be harvested in the fall and winter months. Peas before harvest can be waist high of a full grown adult.

Here I am with some younger peas just prior to blooming. 

Though peas were being planted, Cory’s Produce was hard at work preparing ground for watermelon planting, a lot of work goes into those fresh juicy melons I enjoy on a warm summer day.

Watermelons and nearly all the fresh market vegetables are drip irrigated. Here we are putting in the irrigation lines that will water the plants.

 Plastic Mulch and Drip Irrigation Prior to being laid for watermelon production.

 I never knew John Deere makes more than tractors and equipment, but irrigation tape as well.

Watermelons are started as transplants in greenhouses

 and planted into plastic mulch beds.

Then they are hand harvested and packed into bins. As the season is just beginning, the transplants are just getting planted in the field as my stay was ending.  Though Cory’s Produce let me have a few photos of watermelon harvest and packing to share.

Cory's Produce uses an old school bus to haul watermelons in from the field.

The watermelons are then sorted by size and placed in the large cardboard boxes you may see at the grocery store.

Mar-Del watermelons are grown in Maryland and Delaware.
Along with watermelons and peas being planted, Cory’s Produce was in full swing of planting field corn. The sandy soils here require a lot of irrigation much of the area is over-head center pivot irrigated. Though newer sub-surface drip irrigation (SDI) is becoming popular, to help conserve water and to irrigate irregular shape fields. 

A common practice in the grain production at Cory’s Produce, is no-till.  Cory says this helps conserve water, and nutrients, while helping reduce soil erosion and increase soil health.

 Peas Being planted on the right and cover crop to the left which no-till corn will be planted
Agriculture in Delaware is most definitely diverse and I have really enjoyed my stay here.  I did want to let you know that I did meet up with Flat Stanley for a little of my tour of Delaware!  I tried to teach him as much as I could about agriculture while we were together.

Thanks for letting me learn more about farming this year.  I can't wait to see where I get to go next year for Mrs. Piatt's class!

Your Friend,
Flat Aggie

To learn more about the History of Delaware agriculture watch the video at: Search: Farming the First State

Here is more about Cory's watermelon growing and watermelon harvest!  If you are a farmer that would like to host Flat Aggie next school year, or you know a teacher that would like help with Flat Aggie in their classroom, be sure to go to my contact page and let me know!

-A Kansas Farm Mom

Be sure to check out Flat Aggie's other adventures in American Agriculture:

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