A group of Iowa soldiers is growing a traditional Iowa crop in Iraq. Sergeant Ray Reynolds of the 234th Signal Battalion of the Iowa Army National Guard is stationed in Baghdad and he says the idea sprouted back in July when the troops were served what was billed as sweet corn. Reynolds, who’s from Denison, says it just wasn’t the same as sweet corn in Iowa. Reynolds says his sergeant told him it’d be nice to have their own sweet corn, and they decided to try to grow it themselves.Reynolds says some “super good” friends who’ve been sending him care packages “went to the ends of the earth” to track down and send him 10 pounds of sweet corn seed. About 40 plants are up right now.Reynolds says they’ve been watering the plot of sweet corn, and had the “ministry of agriculture” acquire some fertilizer for the plants, too. He says most of the plants are a foot tall now. This is the coldest time of year in Baghdad — temperatures dip in the 40s and 50s overnight and reach the 70s during the day, and Reynolds says if they can avoid frost, the corn should start yielding edible ears by the end of February. Reynolds says 10 pounds of seed was way more than they needed, so they’ve shared it with Iraq’s Ministry of Agriculture. University students are using the seed to conduct research to determine if sweet corn is a viable crop for Iraq. The rest of the seed was donated to another government agency that feeds the homeless and has been planted in a Baghdad garden where food is grown for a high-rise apartment building for the homeless. Reynolds says the corn-growing experiment turned out to be a “pretty big deal” after an article about the project ran in “The Stars and Stripes.” Reynolds says he’s “just a farm boy trying to grow some sweet corn” but he likes the idea that he’s helping promote some “good news” about U.S. involvement in Iraq.
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