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Corn Facts

Created by

Karen Bazan

2nd grade teacher



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Types of Corn

  • Scientists think that the ancestry of corn in the Americas dates back to 10,000 years ago, and that it is closely related to a wild grass called teosinte. Corn was introduced to Spain by Columbus. The Spanish called it Panizo, which means grain in Spanish.

  • What kinds of corn are there?

  • Flint cornFlint corn is very hard and gets its name from flint, a hard type of stone. The colors of flint corn range from white to red. (Flint corn is also known as Indian corn.) Flint corn is commonly used for industrial purposes and livestock feed. Today, flint corn is widely grown in Asia, Europe, and Central and South America.

  • Popcorn Popcorn is a special type of flint corn with hard, small kernels. The natural moisture inside the kernels turns to steam when heated, but the outer coat of the kernel is so hard that the moisture is trapped. This causes the steam to build up pressure until the kernel explodes. The wild ancestor of corn is believed to have been a type of popcorn. Today, the United States is responsible for producing almost all of the world's popcorn.

  • Dent cornDent corn is softer than flint corn. It has a dent in each kernel. Most kernels are yellow or white. It is commonly grown in North America and often used as livestock feed. It is also used to make many processed foods.

  • Flour cornFlour corn has a very soft starchy kernel. It is easily ground and is used in baked goods. Flour and Flint corn were the chief types of corn raised by Native Americans. Today, it is used mostly for food by the people who grow it. It is one of the oldest kinds of corn.

  • Sweet cornSweet corn has more natural sugar than other types of corn. Today, it is eaten on the cob or it is stored frozen or canned. Most Native American tribes didn't grow sweet corn because they didn't like the sweet taste.

  • Pod cornPod corn is thought to have been the first type of corn grown. Each kernel grows in its own husk, so it is difficult to use without incorporating a lot of labor. It is raised today for scientific research.


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Did you know?

  • Corn provides nearly 20% of the world's food calories.

  • Corn is grown in Africa more widely than any other crop.

  • The United States grows 45% of the world's corn, much of which is processed into animal feed.

  • A bushel of corn yields 2.5 gallons of ethanol: a renewable fuel used instead of lead to raise gasoline octane levels.

  • More than 2000 supermarket products are sweetened with corn syrup, more than are sweetened with refined sugars.

  • Corn farming was probably introduced to Africa to supply cheap food for slave ships. Ironically, while Africa was losing people to slavery, the addition of corn to the African diet helped to fuel a population increase. Corn, which was easy to cultivate and grew rapidly, became a staple crop in many parts of Africa. Today, in east Africa, for example, corn is eaten at nearly every meal.

  • An ear of corn averages 800 kernels in 16 rows.

  • Corn is produced in every continent of the world except Antarctica.


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Why is Corn Important?

  • As a crop, corn dominates American agriculture, with production more than double that of any other. Corn is planted on roughly 70-80 million US acres annually, with an annual production of about 9 billion bushels and a value of 30 billion dollars (production and value vary from year to year). The humble kernel of corn finds its way into your life as edible and inedible products, including rubber, plastics, fuel, clothing, food additives and adjuncts, and literally thousands of other forms. Corn is also our chief crop export, with total bushels exported in excess of total bushels used domestically for food, seed, and industrial purposes. Over half of the crop, however, ends up as feed for domestic livestock.

  • Corn production is measured in bushels, a term that equates to a quantity equal to 56 pounds of shelled grain (removed from the cob). A single bushel of corn contains roughly 73,000 kernels, each of which can produce a plant bearing one or more ears, each of which in turn can produce roughly 800 new kernels. Each year, United States farms harvest many hundreds of trillions of kernels, to be used as food for humans and animals, to produce raw materials for manufacturing other goods, and for export.


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More Types of Corn

  • DENT corn, the scientific name of which is Zea mays indentata, is also called "field" corn. It is a corn variety with kernels that contain both hard and soft starch and become indented at maturity. It is a major crop used to make food, animal feed, and industrial products.

  • FLINT corn, known by the scientific name Zea mays indurata, is a variety of corn having hard, horny, rounded or short and flat kernels with the soft and starchy endosperm completely enclosed by a hard outer layer. It is similar to dent and is used for the same purposes. Most of it is grown in South America.

  • WAXY corn is a corn variety with grains that have a waxy appearance when cut, and that contain only branched-chain starch. It is grown to make special starches for thickening foods.

  • SWEET or "green" corn is eaten fresh, canned, or frozen. It is a type of corn that is grown in many horticultural varities. It is variously considered a distinct species (Zea saccharata or Zea rugosa), a subspecies (Zea mays rugosa) or a specific mutation of dent corn. It is distinguished by kernels containing a high percentage of sugar in the milk stage when they are suitable for table use.

  • POPCORN is a variety of corn, Zea mays everta, which has small ears and small pointed or rounded kernels with very hard corneous endosperm that, on exposure to dry heat, are popped or everted by the expulsion of the contained moisture, and form a white starchy mass many times the size of the original kernel.

  • INDIAN corn has white, red, purple, brown, or multicolored kernels. It was the original corn grown by the Indians, and is known by the scientific name Zea mays. It is many times seen in harvest time and Halloween decorations.

  • FLOUR corn, also called "soft" corn or "squaw" corn, has kernels shaped like those of flint corn and composed almost entirely of soft starch. It is known by the scientific name Zea mays amylacea. In this country we grow small amounts of blue flour corn to make tortillas, chips, and baked goods. In South America this corn is grown in various colors to make food and beer.

  • This information provided by the Ohio Corn Marketing Program www.ohiocorn.org



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