RANTOUL, Ill. — When people talk about the “good old days,” Roger Musson considers the days past of corn harvesting.
“There aren’t any cabs, you’re eating all this dirt,” he said.
But then he sees through the eyes of the audiences who will travel to Rantoul and the Half Century of Progress to see the corn harvesting demonstration.
“It’s amazing to me to see how much the people who see this really enjoy it and how much the kids, who have never been around farm machinery, really enjoy it,” he said.
Musson organizes the corn harvesting demonstration at the Half Century of Progress, and he said he thinks showgoers will be in for a treat with the corn harvesting event.
“We’ll have two sessions each day, at around 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. We have enough corn pickers and volunteers who bring their corn pickers that we’ll have around 35 to 40 ear corn pickers going through the field at one time,” he said.
Despite dealing with the same weather issues that kept area farmers out of the fields, volunteers did get the fields planted for the ear corn harvesting demonstration.
Only a couple of modifications have to be made to accommodate the older harvesters — and the show date.
“We planted 80-day ear corn to be ready to pick. The one thing we have to do is these are 36-inch row pickers, so you have to have a planter that plants 36 inch rows,” Musson said.
Musson has been working with the ear corn harvesting demonstration since the Half Century of Progress started, and he’s worked with corn pickers since he was a child.
Some of the highlights of the 2019 demonstration include a John Deere baler that shreds the cornstalks and bales them at the same time and an International single-row corn picker built largely of wood that has to be pulled by a tractor and have a wagon pulled beside it to collect the corn.
“It takes two people to run it,” Musson said of the International picker.
In addition to the ear corn harvesting, there also will be corn shellers operating to show the next step in the vintage corn harvest.
“We will have two or three shellers operating at the same time as we’re picking the corn,” Musson said.
He said the show’s popularity has spread near and far. This year, he expects corn pickers from as far away as Texas.
“It’s really incredible to see how much the show has grown and how many people come out to see it,” he said.