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.