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What Is “Knee High By The Fourth of July” All About?

What Is “Knee High By The Fourth of July” All About?

Here at Farmers’ Almanac, we share a lot of folklore and old-timey wisdom, which is very popular with our readers. Whether it’s forecasting the weather or advice about gardening in your back yard, there are countless old “adages” that have been passed down from the generations, many still in circulation today. One you may have heard is “Knee High by the Fourth of July.” But what does it mean?

Corn Farmers’ Measuring Stick

“Knee High by the Fourth of July” is an old saying once used by farmers to measure the success of their corn crops. Years ago, if corn had grown knee high by Independence Day, it was a good sign and meant they could count on high yields for the year. Today, however, that sentiment is a bit different. Due to the advancements in agriculture, growing techniques, and disease and pest control, corn farmers can expect plants to reach 8 feet by midsummer, if growing conditions are good, according to the Iowa Corn Growers Association. Now, knee-high doesn’t quite measure up.

That being the case, you may want to look to the Oklahoma musical instead. In the classic lyrics from the “Oh What A Beautiful Morning,” a corn stalks’ growing success is measured a bit differently:

There’s a bright, golden haze on the meadow.
The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye
And it looks like it’s climbing clear up to the sky.

Whether your corn is knee-high or as high as an elephant’s eye by July 4th, we want to know! Tell us in the comments below.

Check out Farmers’ Almanac’s Gardening by the Moon Calendar here to pick the best day to plant or harvest.

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  • sue says:

    shoulder high in Shepherd Montana

  • J L says:

    The cornfields in the Husker State varies a lot from calf-high to over knee high due to the seasonal spring weather and what part of the beautiful state your visitIng

  • Shelly Walker says:

    For our farmers in Southern Arizona the corn harvest usually starts around the beginning of July nowadays. 🌽

  • Stephanie says:

    Knee high at the grandmas in Minnesota and she’s very pleased with it! She has been growing corn and a few other things for years now.

  • Veda Holybee says:

    My sister and I drove by a corn field just the other day and it was only knee high. This was a corn field in McCloud, Oklahoma.

  • Joe Miller says:

    The sweet corn we got in early is over 6 feet tall now, but the corn we planted for animal fodder is indeed knee high 😀

  • If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

    Reading Farmers' Almanac on Tablet with Doggie

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