Every Iowan has heard the phrase 'knee high by the 4th of July." It's an old saying that has been used by corn farmers and can sometimes help indicate the success of their upcoming crop.

According to Agriculture BASF, Iowa farmers have potentially changed their tune regarding how tall the corn stalks should be this time of the year. Under good conditions, many Iowa farmers typically see corn plants 8 feet high by midsummer.

If farmers have corn stalks that are only knee high in late June or early July, it would normally be a sign of trouble for farmers in 2024. With the advancement of technology, genetics, and improved plant health, most farmers expect stalks to be taller than knee height this time of the year. Some farmers have changed the saying to 'as high as an elephant's eye by the 4th of July.'

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Regardless if the phrase is relevant or not, July 4th is still a milestone in the growing season for farmers to potentially judge how their crops will turn out in the fall. 

Where Did Knee High By the 4th of July Come From?

Even if 'knee high by the 4th of July' is somewhat outdated, where did this phrase come from? Did this come from Iowa, the nation's number 1 corn producer in America? Or did it originate from Illinois, Minnesota, or Nebraska?

These 3 states are all in the top 5 of most corn-producing states in the US, so it wouldn't be too big of a surprise if any of Iowa's neighbors coined the phrase.


While this may be difficult to prove for 100% certainty, according to Morning Ag Clips, Iowa can take credit for one of the most popular phrases in farming.

This phrase that every Iowan has heard since birth, was "likely" created in the 19th century. It is believed that the phrase was first seen in the Eastern Iowa Newspaper, the Sumner Gazette, on July 3rd, 1884.

Some claim that this phrase began during colonial times, which would be between 1565 and 1783 but once again, it's pretty tough to prove.

As far as I'm concerned...Iowa can be proud and boldly take claim to one of the most popular farming phrases in the world! You can tell all of your out-of-state friends that saying was born in Iowa. If they disagree, tell them to prove you wrong. Good luck with that!

Companies Based in Iowa

These companies all have one thing in common: They're based in the Hawkeye state.

Gallery Credit: Johnny Marks

Hilarious Iowa DOT Signs

Anyone else share a sense of humor with a state's Department of Transportation? Just me? Well, every Monday the Iowa Department of Transportation puts up a sometimes hilarious, sometimes straightforward message on their road signs across the state. This is called "message Monday" and Iowa DOT tries to entertain and educate drivers through these signs. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Gallery Credit: Kerri Mac

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