AgriCulture: The Corn Is Green
It is harvest time. Tomatoes are starting to turn, green beans are weighing on the vine and it’s almost to the point where you can’t even give away your cucumbers anymore – there are just so many! Farmer’s markets are in full swing and one of the things everyone is looking for is farm fresh sweet corn – maybe you’ve even tried growing some yourself. Corn itself, is very interesting. There’s not quite another crop like it in the typical vegetable garden. To celebrate this summer staple, here are some things that you might not know about corn:
Corn should be planted in blocks – Because it is wind pollinated, corn should be planted in rows of four or more. This will give the plants ample opportunity, on all sides, to get exposure to the sperm germ coming from the male flower.
Corn silks are actually flower styles – the male flower is the tassel, or top of the corn and produces pollen. From there the pollen grains (or sperm germ) falls onto the silks of the young ears of corn that you have growing on the plant. Each silk is connected to an individual flower inside the husk. Pollen is carried by the silk via the syle to the pistil’s ovaries where pollination occurs. These individual pistils, once pollenated, develop into kernels – every individual kernel on an ear of corn goes through this process.
Sweet to Starchy – With corn, freshness really matters. The quicker you can get it from the stalk to the pot (or the grill) the better. Once picked, the sugars in corn start to break down and turn into starch. A lot of the corn you see in supermarkets has been engineered to be SUPER sugary so that this process takes longer to allow for transportation. That’s why “local,” “fresh,” or “picked today” are buzzwords you want to pay attention to at farm stands.
Each ear of corn has about 800 kernels
Farmers grow corn on every continent exceptor one; Antarctica.
A bushel of corn measure 56lbs consisting of more that 72,800 kernels of corn.
From just one of those bushels, you can sweeten 325 cans of Coke, get two pounds of oil for margarine, or get enough starch for 1 ton of paper.
Corn is America’s largest crop and accounts for more than 90 percent of the total value and production of feed grains.
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