Ever wonder why corn is planted in blocks? Or what that shiny golden silk is for?
Corn is part of the family Poaceae – grass family, along with maize, barley, oats, rice, rye and sorghum. It is pollinated by wind. The male flower is the crown at the top of the stalk and the female flower is that silk at the top of each cob. The pollen from the male flowers needs to be moved around the field by wind. Every silk is an individual pistil-connected to one ovary- every single silk needs to catch pollen in order for a single kernel of corn to form.
So, if corn is planted in a line and the wind only blows across that line the pistils have a very poor chance of getting pollinated. If the corn is a block wind from any direction has a good chance of putting that pollen right where it needs to be.
In the pic at the top you can see what it looks like when pollination does not happen as on the top of the cob in the foreground. You can also see the delicious future popcorn on the rest of the cobs pictured. Yup, if you look closely at those kernels of popcorn – which have exploded inside out from the moisture in the kernel turning to steam as it is heated – you will see that bright red, purple or yellow on the inside.
What are your favorite popcorn toppings?
Your kiddos will explore all this and more at farm camp this summer (farmdiscovery.org/farm-camps) and learn some fun, new ways to flavor that whole grain snack we all love too.