California Corn Production

How corn is produced


The most abundant variety of corn grown in the United States is dent corn. In California, dent corn is planted each spring and is often double cropped—with a second planting occurring in the summer. Seeds are planted approximately two inches deep either into moist, flat ground that is formed into seedbeds after the seed germinates, or into preformed seedbeds that are irrigated until germination occurs. The corn plant has a stalk, and ears” of corn grow where the leaves join the stalk. An ear consists of a corncob covered with rows of kernels (800 kernels on average). Each kernel is a seed that can grow into a new plant. Leaves, called husks, protect each ear. A tassel (the male plant part) at the top of a cornstalk contains hundreds of small flowers that produce pollen, which is distributed by wind and gravity to the thread-like silks of the ears. The silks are connected to the female part of the plant. Each silk will carry pollen to a spot on a developing ear and produce a kernel. Stalks can grow from seven to 12 feet tall. Corn is harvested with a combine from August through September. The combine strips the husks and removes the kernels from each ear. History – Corn, also known as maize, is a cereal grain that was domesticated in Mesoamerica as many as 10,000- 12,000 years ago. Corn is a member of the grass family and grew wild in what is modern-day Mexico. Native Americans grew corn as a crop and fertilized the seed by planting it with decaying fish. The fish contained nitrogen, which corn needs for good growth. The earliest known ears of corn were tiny, but centuries of breeding—first by Native Americans, then by early settlers, and later by modern scientists—resulted in bigger, fuller ears of corn. Today, corn is cultivated on every continent except Antarctica. The three types of corn grown for human consumption are dent corn (grain), sweet corn (vegetable) and popcorn (food snack). Dent corn is primarily used as feed for animals, but is also processed into thousands of items: starch (baby food, salad dressing, glue); corn syrup (soda, fireworks, adhesives); dextrose (bakery goods, fruit juices, antibiotics); and oil (margarine, soap, paint). Today's scientists have even developed a new source of fuel from corn products called ethanol.

Ear of Corn
Upper Leaves
(or Seed)
Prop Root

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