Corn also known as maize is cereal plant which yields large grains set in rows on a cob.
It is one of the most popular cereal grains in the world.
Corn like all cereal crops are members of the grass family (Poaceae).
Corn was first domesticated by indigenous peoples in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago.
Native Americans taught European colonists to grow the indigenous grains, and, since its introduction into Europe by Christopher Columbus and other explorers, corn has spread to all areas of the world suitable to its cultivation.
It has become a staple food in many parts of the world, with total production surpassing that of wheat or rice.
Corn is grown on every continent on Earth, except Antarctica.
Corn is used as livestock feed, as human food, as biofuel, as raw material in industry.
There are thousands of corn hybrids, but almost all fall into six general types.
The six major types of corn are dent corn, flint corn, pod corn, popcorn, flour corn, and sweet corn.
Corn plants consist of a single stem or stalk with leaves and ears attached.
The height of the stalks depends on the corn variety and the environment. On average, a corn plant measures 2.5 to 3 meters (8 to 10 feet) tall but the world record is over 10 meters (33 feet).
The stem has the appearance of a bamboo cane and is commonly composed of 20 internodes of 18 cm (7 in) length.
A leaf, which grows from each node, is generally 9 cm (4 in) in width and 120 cm (4 ft) in length.
Male flowers are borne on the tassel terminating the main axis of the stem. They release pollen that is easily spread by wind.
Elongated stigmas, called silks, emerge from the whorl of husk leaves at the end of the ear. They are often pale yellow and 18 cm (7 in) in length, like tufts of hair in appearance. At the end of each is a carpel, which may develop into a “kernel” if fertilized by a pollen grain.
Each cob of corn consists of usually 800 kernels that are arranged in 16 rows.
Kernels are of various colors: blackish, bluish-gray, purple, green, red, white and yellow.
The maximum size of kernels is reputedly 2.5 cm (1 in).
In 2014, total world production was 1.04 billion tonnes, led by the United States with 35% of the total (table). China produced 21% of the global total.
There are 86 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of corn.
Corn not only provides the necessary calories for healthy, daily metabolism, but is also a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin E and many minerals and some antioxidants. It is also high in fiber content.
Health benefits of corn include controlling diabetes, prevention of heart ailments, lowering hypertension and prevention of neural-tube defects at birth.
The antioxidants present in corn also act as anti-carcinogenic agents and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Corn and cornmeal (ground dried maize) constitute a staple food in many regions of the world.
Corn is central to Mexican food. Virtually every dish in Mexican cuisine uses maize. In the form of grain or cornmeal, maize is the main ingredient of tortillas, tamales, pozole, atole and all the dishes based on them, like tacos, quesadillas, chilaquiles, enchiladas, tostadas and many more.
Cornmeal is made into a thick porridge in many cultures: from the polenta of Italy, the angu of Brazil, the mămăligă of Romania, the kačamak of Serbia, to cornmeal mush in the US (and hominy grits in the South).
Popcorn consists of kernels of certain varieties that explode when heated, forming fluffy pieces that are eaten as a snack.
Corn flakes are a common breakfast cereal in North America and the United Kingdom, and found in many other countries all over the world.
Chicha and chicha morada (purple chicha) are drinks typically made from particular types of maize. The first one is fermented and alcoholic, the second is a soft drink commonly drunk in Peru.
Corn syrup is a food syrup which is made from the starch of corn and contains varying amounts of maltose and higher oligosaccharides, depending on the grade.
High-fructose corn syrups (corn sweeteners) are widely found in juices and soft drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Corn oil is oil extracted from the germ of corn. It is rich in unsaturated fats and sterols, both of which can help lower blood cholesterol.
Corn is a major source of both grain feed and fodder for livestock.
Corn is used for many nonfood items such as fireworks, plastics, fabrics, rust preventatives, glue, paint, dyes, laundry detergent, soap, aspirin, antibiotics, paint, shoe polish, ink, cosmetics and more.
Corn is also used to produce ethanol (ethyl alcohol), a first-generation liquid biofuel.
Before the 20th century, all corn harvesting was by manual labour.
The first mechanical corn harvester was developed in 1930 by Gleaner Harvester Combine Corporation of Independence, Missouri.
Some forms of the plant are occasionally grown for ornamental use in the garden. For this purpose, variegated and colored leaf forms as well as those with colorful ears are used.
In the United States, corn ears along with tobacco leaves are carved into the capitals of columns in the United States Capitol building.
Maize is an Indian word meaning “sacred mother,” or “giver of life.”