United States, corn is
the name applied to the seed of the maize plant, which is a highly
developed grass plant that forms the largest single crop in the Americas (332 million
metric tons annually in the United States alone).
of this plant grow on a woody cob, and are eaten as a
vegetable when they are soft and milky, but as a grain, or cereal, when
they are mature.
Corn is native to America and was not known in Europe
until Columbus took it back with him. However, it did not meet with
favor there, for it was not grown to any great extent until within the
last 120 years. Those who took it to Europe gave it the name Indian
corn, because they had found the Indians of America raising it.
The term maize derives from the Spanish form of the indigenous Taino
word maiz for the plant. This was the term used in the United Kingdom
and Ireland, where it is now usually called "sweet corn", the most
common form of the plant known to people there.
Maize is widely cultivated throughout the world, and a greater weight
of maize is produced each year than any other grain. While the United
States produces almost half of the world's harvest (~42.5%), other top
producing countries include China, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, India and
France. Worldwide production was around 800 million tonnes in 2007—just
slightly more than rice (~650 million tonnes) or wheat (~600 million
the corn grown in the United States, there are three
kinds: field corn, sweet corn, and pop corn. Field corn, as a
grown in large quantities and allowed to mature; then it is fed to
animals or ground and cooked for the use of man. This corn consists of
three varieties, which are distinguished by the color of the grain, one
being white, one yellow, and one red. All of them are made into a
variety of preparations, but the white and the yellow are used as food
for both man and animals, whereas red field corn is used exclusively
Many of the maize varieties grown in the United States and Canada today
are hybrids. Often the varieties have been genetically modified to
tolerate glyphosate or to provide protection against natural pests.
|Did You Know?
|The word corn has been applied to
and is now used
in a variety of ways in different countries.
ancient times, barley
was called corn, and at the present time, in some countries, the entire
year's food crop is referred to by this name.
English were applying the
corn to wheat, and the Scotch, to oats.
In North America, its meaning has been restricted since the 19th
century to maize, as it was shortened from "Indian corn." The term
Indian corn now refers specifically to multi-colored "field corn"
(flint corn) cultivars.
Outside the British
Isles, another common term for maize is "corn". This was originally the
English term for any cereal crop.
In scientific and formal usage, "maize" is normally used in a global
context. Equally, in bulk-trading contexts, "corn" is used most
frequently. In the UK, Australia and other English-speaking countries,
the word "corn" is often used in culinary contexts, particularly in
naming products such as popcorn and corn flakes. "Maize" is used in
agricultural and scientific references.
In Southern Africa, maize is commonly referred to as mielie or mealie,
from the Portuguese milho. Mielie-meal is the ground form.
Glyphosate (trade name
Roundup) is an herbicide which kills all plants
except those with genetic tolerance. This genetic tolerance is very
rarely found in nature.