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Corn Facts

Did you know?

  • Iowa has approximately 87,500 farms. More than 97 percent of those farms are owned by farm families.
  • Iowa ranks number one in producing corn, soybeans, hogs, eggs, ethanol and Dry Distillers Grain Solubles (DDGS) which serve as a premium source of protein for livestock. It also ranks fourth in beef cattle.
  • In 2015, Iowa farmers produced more than 2.51 billion bushels of corn for grain according to the U.S. Department of Agricultural Statistics Service.
     

Sweet Corn vs. Field Corn

  • Only one percent of corn planted in the United States is sweet corn.
  • 99 percent of corn grown in Iowa is “Field Corn”. When Iowa’s corn farmers deliver corn from the field, it’s “Field Corn”.  Not the delicious sweet corn you might enjoy on the cob or in a can.
  • Field corn is the classic big ears of yellow dented corn you see dried and harvested in the fall. It’s called “dent corn” because of the distinctive dent that forms on the kernel as the corn dries.
  • While a small portion of “Field Corn” is processed for use as corn cereal, corn starch, corn oil and corn syrup for human consumption, it is primarily used for livestock feed, ethanol production and manufactured goods. It’s considered a grain.
  • Sweet corn is what people purchase fresh, frozen or canned for eating. It’s consumed as a vegetable. Unlike “Field Corn”, which is harvested when the kernels are dry and fully mature, sweet corn is picked when immature. 
     

What is it used for?

  • Iowa leads the nation in ethanol production, with 39 percent (953 million bushels) of the corn grown in Iowa going to create nearly 30 percent of all American ethanol.
  • 461 million bushels or 21 percent of Iowa Corn went directly into livestock feed in the 2014/15 marketing year. In livestock feeding, one bushel of corn converts to about 8 pounds of beef, 15.6 pounds of pork, or 21.6 pounds of chicken. Learn more.
  • One bushel of corn produces 17 pounds of DDGS as well as 2.8 gallons of ethanol. Learn more.
  • 12 percent or 264 million bushels of Iowa corn in the 2014/2015 marketing year went into corn processing used in the wet mill industry for food and industrials usage. Learn more.
  • 9 percent or 203 million bushels of Iowa corn was exported out of the state in the 2014/2015 marketing year. In an average year, Iowa produces more corn than most countries. Learn more.
  • Corn is in more than 4,000 grocery store items a few examples include: shampoo, toothpaste, chewing gum, marshmallows, crayons and paper. Learn more.
     

Debunking Food vs. Fuel Myth

There is a significant amount of misinformation on the internet regarding the relationship between corn and the price of food in the grocery stores. Let’s take a look at the facts:

  • In 2015, U.S. corn farmers produced a record breaking crop. However, the price of corn is the lowest it’s been in three years, yet food prices have not come down.
  • Only 16 percent of grocery costs can be traced back to farm inputs, like corn. The rest goes to costs such as energy, transportation, packaging, marketing and labor.
  • Oil, not corn, has been driving up global food prices. The World Bank conducted research determining crude oil as the number one determinant of global food prices. The cost of energy from oil is integral to so much of the 84 percent of what makes up grocery costs. When the price of oil goes up, so does food prices.
  • The great thing about corn is that it provides:
    • A renewable, environmentally-friendly fuel source (Ethanol)
    • Animal feed for livestock which is important to our food supply
    • Exports supplying the world with corn and corn products which boosts our economy
    • Food ingredients necessary for preparing many of our favorite meals
    • Bio-based, renewable materials for industrial uses such as bioplastics  
       

Other Fun Corn Facts

  • Corn can be produced in various colors including blackish, bluish-gray, purple, green, red and white but the most common color grown is yellow
  • There is one silk for every kernel that grows in an ear of corn
  • The number of kernels per ear can vary from 500 to about 1,200, but a typical ear would have 800 kernels in 16 rows
  • Corn is grown in every continent except Antarctica
  • One acre of corn is about the size of a football field
  • A bushel of corn is 56 pounds, about the weight of a large bag of dog food.
  • A single corn bushel can sweeten about 400 cans of soda pop. Learn more.
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