Photo gallery: Kernel enjoys the Corn Boil; All about: Corn

By on July 22, 2009

Kernel had a great time at the 2008 Corn Boil—and can’t wait for the 2009 edition.
Illustrations by Ben Draper

All about: Corn

• The average ear of corn has 800 kernels, arranged in 16 rows.
• There is one piece of silk for each kernel.
• A bushel of corn contains about 27,000 kernels.
• Each tassel on a corn plant releases as many as 5 million grains of pollen.
• Corn is an ingredient in more than 3,000 grocery products.
• One bushel of corn can make 33 pounds of sweetener,
32 pounds of starch, or 2.5 gallons of ethanol fuel.
more facts after the gallery >>

Corn is used in the production of alcohol and distilled spirits, corn syrup, sugar, cornstarch, synthetic fibers such as nylon, certain plastics, in the manufacture of wood resin, lubricating oils and synthetic rubber, as an abrasive, corn cob pipes, corn oil, margarine, saccharin, paints, soaps, linoleum and gasohol.

Corn is the third most important food crop of the world measured by production volume, behind wheat and rice. In terms of acreage planted, it is second only to wheat.

Washington, Mo., is known as the Corn Cob Pipe Capital of the World.

Mexico’s per-capita corn consumption is almost 400 pounds, while in the United States it is about 160 pounds and in India only about 15 pounds.

World corn (for grain) production for 2005 was 686 million metric tons. U.S. production for 2005 was 282 million metric tons.

In 2005, 52 percent of the U.S. corn acreage was planted with genetically modified seed.

China produces about 19 percent of the world’s corn crop, about 4.5 billion bushels. (2004)

According to the Agricultural Council of America, U.S. farmers account for 41 percent of the world’s corn production. (2007)

In 2002, about 9 billion bushels of corn were produced in the U.S., and the largest-producing states were Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and Indiana.

In the 1930s, before the machines were available, a farmer could harvest an average of 100 bushels of corn by hand in a nine-hour day. Today’s combines can harvest 900 bushels of corn per hour—or 100 bushels of corn in under seven minutes.

Fresh corn on the cob will lose up to 40 percent of its sugar content after six hours of room temperature storage. The sugar is converted to starch.

Corn was domesticated about 10,000 years ago, most likely from a lost ancestor from the highlands of central Mexico. The oldest remains of corn found at archeological sites in Mexico resemble popcorn-type corn.

Corn is not only an important food for man; more than 50 percent of U.S. production is used for livestock feed.

The official grain of Wisconsin is corn.

Nebraska is the ‘Cornhusker State.’

The world record for eating corn on the cob is 33 1/2 ears in 12 minutes, held by Cookie Jarvis.

Corn always has an even number of rows on each ear.
A corn ear is actually an inflorescence that produces nearly 1,000 female flowers.

These flowers, or potential kernels, are arranged in an even number of rows (usually from 8 to about 22 rows). Row number is always an even number because corn spikelets are borne in pairs, and each spikelet produces two florets: one fertile and one sterile.

Most things in nature have an even number of rows or lines. Watermelon has an even number of stripes as does, cantaloupe, etc. Think of it this way. One cell divides into two—as cell division continues, there is always an even number.

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