Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom

Newsletters & Blog

October 2023

It's Corn!


Oh, hey! I didn't see you down there! My name is Cornelia, and I am an ear of corn! Welcome to my field, I've been staying here for about 4-5 months. It's been great here, there's nice soil and good spacing, but I think it's about time for me to be harvested!

I am a field corn variety, also known as dent corn. For me, harvest happens when my kernels are nice and dry! You may be able to tell that we are losing moisture because our green stalks and leaves turn brown. Dry kernels make for easier, long term grain storage after harvest! Once our kernels are at the 18-20% moisture level, our farmers begin the harvesting process!

The most exciting part about harvest is going through the combine tractor! The combine takes off our stalks, removes our kernels from the cob, and spits out any extra parts, like the cob and leaves! My leaves, stalk, and cob are left in the field to help to make the soil healthier. Our kernels, also known as grain, are stored in the combine's tank and get to take a little ride around the field. After the tank gets full, our kernels have to be moved to a grain cart to make room for more corn in the combine tank!

My favorite part of harvest is going through the unloading auger! This is the part of the tractor that moves us from the combine tank to the grain cart. Our kernels get pushed up the pipe and once they reach the top, they fly out into the grain cart! I like to call it a corn roller coaster!

We take another trip in the grain cart and we are taken away to find a new job! The past few months we spent a lot of time growing and relaxing, so now it is time to be put to work! Since I am a field corn variety, I'm not very sweet and I don't taste the best (not even when I'm covered in butter)! I am typically used for livestock feed, ethanol, or sometimes tortilla chips. This season, I am lucky enough to be turned into ethanol! Ethanol is gasoline that can be used to power your vehicles and equipment.

Oh my! I got so caught up in harvest that I forgot to introduce you to my cousins, flour corn, flint corn, popcorn, and sweet corn! We all have different jobs after we are harvested! Even though we are related, we all have different steps when it comes to harvest since each of us are used for different things!

Flour corn is used to make, you guessed it, flour! Corn flour can be used for baking. Flint corn has kernels that can come in reds, oranges, whites, and blues My cousin, Flint really loves the holidays, and her corn cobs are often used for decoration in the fall because of how colorful she is! Popcorn is the celebrity of our family and is well known for being a tasty snack to enjoy with your favorite movie! Last, but not least is my cousin sweet corn. Sweet corn is a little different from the rest of my cousins because she is not harvested with dry kernels and her kernels can stay on the cob!

I have been talking your ear off about harvest, so I better let you go! I hope you learned a lot about harvest and get to enjoy some corn products! You don't have to take my word for how cool corn can be, use these resources to teach about corn this harvest season:

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