John Phipps: Farm Fields Sprout Annual Traffic Hazards

08:56AM Sep 17, 2019
gravel road (2)
For the past two months or so, rural residents in corn-growing country have coped with an annual traffic hazard: blind corners obscured by tall corn.
( Farm Journal )

For the past two months or so, rural residents in corn-growing country have coped with an annual traffic hazard: blind corners obscured by tall corn. We’ve all learned to be extra cautious, but on unfamiliar roads without any signage, you can pop into an intersection abruptly if you’re not paying attention.

For most of my career, I have been mildly irritated with neighbors who planted as close to intersections as they could. It seemed like sort of showing off – proving to the world you could horse a 32 row planter into an interior corner. And it does take considerable skill, I’ll admit. It has not been my habit to do so, and I usually end up with a twenty foot or so bare or mowed off notch in such places. I tell people it’s to help drivers see, but truth be told, I can’t get a forty-foot anhydrous applicator even close to the corner and we don’t use starter so the corners are stunted and yellow anyway. I have no idea how other guys overcome that problem.

But they do. As you can see, some results border cross into the extreme – and the road. This sharp right corner has corn about three feet from the gravel. On the other hand, we have neighbors who have sacrificed several feet of crop to increase visibility at particularly busy corners.

Over the last few years, my attitude is shifting. This practice is becoming more common, which itself is amazing considering how large the equipment is, and griping to neighbors doesn’t seem to get results.

Plus I may be wrong. At one of our worst and busiest blind corners, we have been trained to inch out into the road before turning or crossing, which has saved me from some serious vehicle damage, if not injury at least twice. Since those of us who travel this road all the time are the most likely to develop sloppy habits, the utter impossibility of seeing keeps us on our best driving behavior. A fatality at this corner a few years ago also is a powerful reminder.

So call me neutral on intense corner planting. Sometimes safety may require inconvenience to help overcome the inattention of familiarity. However, good luck to visitors who stumble onto these roads.

USFR 09/14/19 - John's World