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					Kansas Corn

                            in the

A teacher resource packet for teaching about the
     roles of corn and agriculture in Kansas

   Kansas Corn Growers Association/Kansas Corn Commission

Corn in the Classroom
Let’ Learn About Kansas Corn!
Scientific Name: Zea Mays
Nickname: Maize

  Corn Plant
  Corn is an annual plant that grows 7 to 10 feet tall.
  Strong roots called prop roots help support the
  cornstalk. A tassel grows at the top of each jointed
  cornstalk and contains hundreds of small flowers
  that produce pollen. Long, sword like leaves grow
  outward from the stalk and end in a pointed tip.

  Ear of Corn
  Ears of corn grow where the leaves join the stalk. A
  plant normally has one or two ears. Special leaves,
  called husks, protect each ear. An ear consists of a
  corncob covered with row of kernels. An ear may
  have 8, 10, 12 or more rows of kernels.

  Kernel or Seed
  Each corn kernel has what looks like a silk thread
  that runs from the kernel up the row, and sticks out
  of the husk at the end of the ear. This thread is
  called the corn silk. Each silk needs to be pollinated
  to produce a kernel of corn.


       Corn is usually planted about 2 inches deep in rows about 30 inches apart.
A corn kernel serves as the seed. Seeds need their own food supply to help them
get started. The endosperm in the seed serves as the food supply for the corn
kernel as it grows from embryo to plant. Thus, the corn plant begins its life cycle
of approximately 120 – 150 days. During this life cycle corn can grow from 3 to
15 feet tall, depending on the variety.

      How does it all begin? Seeds soak up water that makes them swell and burst
through their outer covering (pericarp) and sprout. Then they start to grow. Part of
the embryo grows down into the soil to form roots that absorb water and minerals
to support plant growth. Roots also serve as an anchor for the plant.

       Part of the plant pushes up through the soil to reach the sunlight. A single
stalk forms and bears about 15 long broad leaves. Sunlight provides the energy
necessary for photosynthesis to begin. During this process, the plant absorbs
sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide that work with the plant’ chlorophyll to
produce the sugar that feeds the plant.

       Once the plant matures and begins to produce the ears, the pollen from the
tassels on top of the plant must fall on the silks to produce the corn kernels.
Pollination, as it is called, occurs by the pollen falling, blowing in the wind, or
being transferred by insects and birds to the silks.


      Most people think that corn originated with the American Indians, but
Indians in central Mexico developed corn from a wild grass over 7,000 years ago!
The Indians in North, Central, and South America grew corn for thousands of
years. Corn has been found in places where Indians lived so long ago that the cobs
have petrified (turned to stone).

      When Columbus arrived in the New World, American Indians had already
been growing corn for quite some time. They called it maize. They gave
Columbus corn to take home to Spain. From there, corn spread quickly throughout
Europe and the rest of the world.

        American Indians stored corn for the winter – it was their main food, and
their lives depended on it. Corn was so important to them, various tribes prayed to
the Corn Gods they believed had sent it to them. They had festivals at planting and
harvest times. They chanted and made music, and each tribe danced its own Corn
Dance. Some tribes considered corn one of the three sacred foods (along with
beans and squash), and some groups even worshipped it.

        The term corn dance is applied to certain rituals of many Indian tribes of
North America. Corn, traditionally a sacred plant to many American Indians,
needs plentiful rain to grow, and the dances are intended to induce rain, to promote
fertility, or to thank the god for the harvest. Corn dance rituals are associated with
tribes of the arid Southwest, where Indians originally farmed without irrigation and

thus were entirely dependent upon rain for the germination and growth of their
crops. Among tribes of the southeastern United States, the green corn dance, in
celebration of the early harvest, was the most important ritual.

       Chief Massosoit taught the Pilgrims and other European settlers how to grow
corn. The Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock would have starved in 1621 if American
Indians had not taught them how to grow corn. He showed them how to heap little
mounds of earth, bury five corn seeds, and five herrings that would rot and make
the soil rich. Maize saved the pilgrims’ lives. On the first Thanksgiving, the
Pilgrims and the Indians gave thanks for the corn harvest, as the American Indians
had always done.

       The Pilgrims learned other uses for corn from the American Indians such as
stuffing mattresses with cornhusks, burning the cobs for fuel, making toys from
husks, and feeding corn to their livestock.

      In England, one of the Pilgrims’ favorite dishes was hasty pudding. It was
made by boiling water and wheat flour in a cloth bag. But in America they had
trouble growing wheat, so they made it with corn flour and called it corn pudding!

       Pioneer breads were baked in many ways. Corn bread was often baked in a
three-legged iron pot called a bake kettle. Johnnycakes (little round cakes of
cornmeal and water) were baked on a board that was propped in front of the fire.
They cooked quickly and were served at almost every meal. Since johnnycakes
were easy to carry, travelers often carried them in their pockets, thus the name
“journey cake.”


Corn has many uses in today’ society. It is used for industrial purposes, food,
drug, and cosmetic uses, and as an animal feed. Here is a breakdown of how corn
is used.

?     0.2% Seed – High yielding hybrids are planted annually.

?     1.6% Food – Americans eat little whole kernel corn, but we eat 120 million
      bushels in processed foods.

?     2% Starch – This extract thickens foods and is used in numerous “new”
      industrial products such as biodegradable plastics.

?   30% Fuel Ethanol – Ethanol from corn powers cars and a variety of other

?   4% Sweeteners – Corn syrup has replaced imported sugar in a host of
    products like soda and candy.

?   44.4% Animal Feed – Feed for cattle, hogs, and poultry continues to be the
    largest market for corn.

?                                                               s
    14.6% Exports – The U.S. provides about 80% of the world’ corn needs
    and is the world’ largest exporter of corn. Corn exports create jobs in the
    U.S. and help our balance of trade.

?                                          s
    1.5% Ending Stocks – Corn held at year’ end provides a sustained food
    supply in bad crop years.

From One Bushel of Corn . . .
                                                     32 pounds of cornstarch
                                                   33 pounds of corn sweetener
                                                       2.8 gallons of ethanol
                                                       1.6 pounds of corn oil
                                              11.4 pounds of 21% protein gluten feed
                                                   3 pounds of 60% gluten meal

                                           A bushel of corn fed to livestock produces 5.6
                                                       pounds of retail beef,
                                               13 pounds of retail pork, 19.6 pounds
                                                of chicken or 28 pounds of catfish.
                                           One bushel of corn will sweeten more than 400
                                                           cans of soda.


    There are approximately 72, 800 kernels of corn in a bushel.

    Each ton of paper uses 28 pounds of cornstarch!

    Corn is grown on every continent except Antartica.

    Some corn can grow over twenty feet high.

    An ear of corn averages 800 kernels in 16 rows.

    75% of all grocery items contain corn in some processed form. Even when
    you buy meat, don’ forget the animal the meat came from probably ate corn.

                For more information about Kansas Corn contact:
                       Kansas Corn Growers Association
                                 P.O. Box 446
                             Garnett, Kansas 66032


1 cup yellow cornmeal                         ¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tarter                    1 tablespoon molasses
1 well-beaten egg                             butter for greasing pan
1 tablespoon melted, unsalted butter          ½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup sugar                                   1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and lightly grease an 8” square baking dish or pan. In a large
mixing bowl, sift all dry ingredients together. Add buttermilk, beaten egg, molasses, and melted
butter to dry mixture. Mix until smooth. Pour into pan and bake 30 minutes. After removing
from oven, turn upside down and remove from container. Let cool slightly.

Yield: 6-8 servings

In the top of a double boiler placed over simmering heat, stir until thickened:

       8 cups milk
       4 tablespoons pearl tapioca, soaked in water until soft
       8 tablespoons fine yellow cornmeal

Add and mix in:

       1½ cups light molasses                        2 eggs, beaten
       ½ cup sugar                                   1 teaspoon ginger
       1 teaspoon cinnamon                           1 teaspoon nutmeg

Turn into buttered baking dish. Cover and bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours. Serve warm.

Yield: 16 servings


½ cup bacon                                          ½ cup chopped celery
¼ cup chopped onion                                  1 cup raw, peeled & cubed potatoes
2 cups water                                         2 cups milk
2 cups corn (drained)                                bay leaf

Saute bacon until browned; add onion and celery and saute until cooked through. Add 2 cups
water, potatoes, salt and bay leaf. Simmer. In a separate pan, heat flour and 1/2 cup milk until
almost boiling. Add to potatoes when they’ tender. Then add 1½ cups milk and corn. Heat
through, but do not boil.


1 - 46 oz can red Hawaiian Punch
1 - 6 oz can frozen Minute Maid Lemonade concentrate
½ cup water
2 - 12 oz cans Shasta Orange Soda, chilled

In large pitcher, stir together punch, lemonade and water.
Chill, just before serving, add orange soda to punch mixture.
Serve chilled.

Yield: 15 – 16 ounce servings

3 cups Corn Chex cereal                      1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups toasted oat cereal                    1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup Planters dry roasted peanuts           6 tablespoons corn oil margarine (melted)
2 cups Hiland pretzel sticks

In a large bowl, combine Corn Chex, oat cereal, peanuts and pretzel sticks. Combine margarine,
Worcestershire sauce and garlic salt. Pour margarine mixture over cereal mixture. Toss until
evenly coated. Spread mixture in jelly roll pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 to 25
minutes, or until mixture is crisped. Stir 2 or 3 times during cooking process. Cool and store in
covered containers.
                                               MICROWAVE DIRECTIONS
                                       In a large microwave safe bowl, combine Corn Chex, oat
                               cereal, peanuts and pretzel sticks. Combine margarine,
                               worchestershire sauce and garlic salt. Pour margarine mixture over
                               cereal mixture. Toss until evenly coated. Heat on high power for 4
                               to 6 minutes, or until moisture is heated through. Stir halfway
                               through cooking time. Cool and store in covered containers.

Yield : 1 ½ to 2 quarts

*Italicized items are made with corn products

                       For more information about Kansas Corn contact:
                              Kansas Corn Growers Association
                                        P.O. Box 446
                                    Garnett, Kansas 66032


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