Corn among most important crops

Corn has been one of the most important crops in North America for many years, and is gaining importance in the world.
It provides feed for man and beast. But it also produces oil, starches, syrups, alcohol, gums, some paper, some explosives, and special types of charcoal.
Corn is a native of America, cultivated for centuries by the native peoples. From the records of DeSoto, the southern natives had many fine fields of corn—yellow for eating and white for flour.
The planting date for the big communal fields was set by an “old beloved man.”
The planting was done by everyone, including the most illustrious chiefs. Musicians and singers cheered the planters on.
The fields were always guarded. Old women watched from high perches to frighten away the crows and blackbirds, who like corn back then as much as they do now.
We don’t know when corn was first cultivated, nor do we know anything about its ancestry. We do know that it is one of the grass family—that huge family of plants which feeds the world on wheat, oats, barley, rice, and all kinds of pasture plants.
There are many kinds of corn. The major types are Flint, Sweet, Dent or Field, and Pop Corn.
Sweet corn generally grows to about eight feet high. The sugar in the kernels doesn’t change to starch until fairly late in development.
Hence, the corn remains “sweet” to the taste for quite a while.
Field corn will grow to well over 12 feet. In the American corn belt, a great deal of this is fed to hogs and chickens (the yellow fat you see on an American chicken is due to their diet of corn).
Much of this corn is harvested green, chopped, and stored in silage. This actually yields greater food value than eating the cobs.
Flint corn is the hardiest of the lot, and is grown quite far north. Pop corn, naturally, is grown for the manufacture of popcorn.
Starch and water are stored inside the kernel. When heated, the water turns to steam, the starch expands, and a little explosion bursts the hard coat.
And so we get the movie-goers delight!
The corn plant has two kinds of flowers. The male flowers are produced in the tassels at the very top of the plant. These have stamens to produce pollen.
The female flowers, meanwhile, are in the “ear” part. Each one has a long, fine tube attached: the silk.
A pollen grain has to land on the end of this silk, and grow all the way down to the bottom, in order for the little flower to be fertilized and develop into an edible kernel.
The value of corn is immense. A few years ago, it was rated as being greater that the combined wealth of wheat, cotton, and hay.
This is one of the many plants which we acquired from the natives. It has been a huge benefit to us ever since.

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