Corn pools: Fun or foul?

County fairs. Summer festivals. Pumpkin patches. Apple orchards.

Seems everywhere you go throughout the year you see  corn “pools” for kids to play in. The large volume of shelled corn is just as much fun to play in as sand. Kids fill buckets with shovels. Some even bury each other in the corn.

From a safety perspective, I cringe a little every time I see one. I realize it’s all in good fun,  but in a different situation that same fun could be dangerous. Even deadly.

You have to wonder if this sort of play undermine the grain safety lesson. Some farm safety experts call foul claiming it’s setting a bad example.

Or perhaps it’s a good opportunity for parents to open up a conversation about safety with their kids, explaining the difference between the corn at the local orchard and the corn in the wagons of the farm yard.

What are your thoughts?

Must be at least 18-years-old to participate.


About Farm Safety For Just Kids

Farm Safety For Just Kids is a non-profit organization devoted to promoting a safe farm environment to prevent health hazards, injuries, and fatalities to rural children and youth. We produce and distribute educational materials addressing various dangers commonly found in the rural environment. Farm Safety For Just Kids is supported by a chapter network of grassroots volunteers located throughout the United States and Canada. The organization also has part-time outreach coordinators in several states. Chapters, outreach coordinators, and volunteers conduct educational programs to raise awareness about safety and health issues affecting their communities.
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8 Responses to Corn pools: Fun or foul?

  1. cheryl says:

    What about chemicals used to grow the corn? Isn’t that a hazard to kids playing in the corn? Or corn dust….is that dangerous to their lungs?

    • Cheryl, your question about chemicals has been addressed below. Corn dust is a concern in confined spaces like a grain bin with little ventilation. Or when the dust is in high concentration like shortly after it’s been harvested and is moving quickly while exposed to an air source. For example, you might notice a large cloud of dust when the combine is emptying into a wagon or grain cart.
      Most corn pools are outside, where the fresh air can disseminate any grain dust stirred up by the children playing. Still a potential concern for some, and again it’s the parents decision whether to allow their children to participate.

  2. Bob says:

    How is this different than allowing wadding pools with water. Water in a pool is fun, but you can drown in 3 inches of water. Grain in a pool is fun , but playing in flowing grain is always dangerous. I teach a grain safety class to first graders for our local chapter of FS4JK. I was raised on a farm, I still live on a farm and my Grandchildren do also. Everything in life has it’s hazards. We “adults” are responsible to teach our children how and where to play safe.

  3. kandi beaman says:

    In addition to the concern of flowing grain dangers, one has to consider the dangers posed by the round-up ready crops all of us handle and eat on a nearly daily basis. Seeing that little girl playing in a pool of corn these days makes me visualize her swimming in a sea of cancer-causing pesticides.

    • Mom says:

      Agree with this. Is this corn treated?

      • Since these corn pools are individually managed, we can only speak in generalities. It seems there may be two separate questions here.

        1. Has the corn in these pools been exposed to pesticides? Possibly. However, if the crop was sprayed with chemicals it’s typically done prior to the cob developing so the kernels themselves aren’t sprayed. If spraying is done later in the growth season, the kernels are surrounded by the husk which is discarded. While this is not scientific at all, it would seem pesticide residue would be minimal. But still a possibility. Ultimately, it’s the parents choice whether or not to let their child participate.

        2. Has the corn been treated? Perhaps the initial question referred to pesticides, but most commonly the phrase “treated seed” refers to seed corn. Seed corn is coated to protect the kernel from being damaged before it germinates. Often these coatings change the color of the kernels to red, blue etc. Again, because these corn pools are individually managed, we can’t say with 100% certainty but it’s HIGHLY unlikely seed corn is used.

        Hope that helped. If you have more specific questions, email and we’d be happy to reach out to some pesticide experts.

  4. Pingback: Corn Pools: Fun or Foul? — Harvest Land Cooperative

  5. Jane Brown says:

    I share your concern about kids playing in a wading pool of grain. We had our FS4JK’s booth set up at an event recently, and right beside of our booth was an area where kids played in wading pools of grain. We were promoting the dangers of playing in hopper wagons, and right beside us were kids playing in grain. Not sure this kind of play is a good idea.

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