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Published October 21, 2011, 03:29 AM

Show choir students offering to pick up ears of corn as fundraiser

MITCHELL, S.D. - Ears of corn scattered on farmers' fields may still wind up going to harvest, thanks to some Mitchell High School students.

By: Tom Lawrence, Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic

MITCHELL, S.D. - Ears of corn scattered on farmers' fields may still wind up going to harvest, thanks to some Mitchell High School students.

Members of Friend de Coup, MHS's show choir, are offering their services to pick up ears of corn that didn't make it through a combine. They are asking for half the profit from the sale of the rescued corn, according to sophomore and show choir member Jake Louder.

The money will help cover Friend de Coup expenses.

"I'm pretty sure farmers will do it," said Jake, 15. "It's a lot of dollars and there's corn all over the place."

He said about 20 members of the show choir are willing to work for farmers. They will get their start on Saturday, when they will pick up ears at Jake's stepgrandparents' farm northeast of Mitchell.

They plan to pick up corn from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at Charles and Linda Bannwarth's farm, Jake said.

Linda Bannwarth said as much as 30 percent of their crop is on the ground and other fields saw a lot of ears hit the ground as well. She said this was the worst year they have ever seen for ears dropping to the ground, and her husband has farmed for more than 50 years.

One of their granddaughters, Kaitlyn Bannwarth, 12, of Brandon, picked up 25 bushels of corn in just a few hours last weekend. At $5.81 per bushel - the price of corn at a local elevator Wednesday - that corn is worth nearly $150.

"She picked up a lot of corn in a short time," Linda said. "We were out combining on the other side, and she was out picking up corn."

She said a lot of farmers had the same problem this year. The corn is at 13 percent moisture, Linda said, and stalks have become very brittle.

Jake said he realizes it's going to be hard work, but the performers are used to exerting themselves. He said he can't promise, however, that they will sing and dance while they work.

South Dakota Corn Growers Association senior writer Randy Hascall said some ears always land on the ground, but the problem is a little bigger than usual this year.

The prolonged dry spell in the fall made stalks brittle and more likely to drop their ears, Hascall said.

It's called "green snap," in which ears of corn fall off stalks after the stalks collapse in high winds, he said. A high wind two weeks ago tossed a lot of ears to the ground, Jake said.

Some ears just get away from the combine and wind up on the ground, Hascall said. He said farmers have one main option in dealing with the problem.

"If they do have fence, they will turn cattle out there," Hascall said. "It's usually a pretty good feed source, if they have cattle. Otherwise, they just leave it there."

He said the show choir students may have hit upon a winning idea.

"Be interesting to see how it comes out," Hascall said.

To hire the show choir students to pick corn, call Jake Louder at 999-2862 or his mother, Teresa Bannwarth, at 999-3820.

Chris Huber/Republic

A cob of corn lies Wednesday in a harvested cornfield two miles north of Corsica. Members of the Mitchell High School show choir are offering their services to help farmers pick up corn that was missed during harvest in exchange for half the profits.

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