European explorers sailed across the Atlantic to new countries. When they found the New World of North, Central and South America they not only discovered gold and silver they also found maize (corn). Christopher Columbus took maize back to Europe and from then on people started growing corn for themselves and their animals.
In many tropical and subtropical countries corn is the main food people eat. It is eaten as a vegetable or ground into flour or cornmeal. Corn needs lots of sunshine to grow properly. It will grow in cool, mild or hot climates as long as there is plenty of sun.
There are lots of varieties of corn and they have different colours too. Some corn is yellow, golden, red or black, striped, speckled or spotted.
Locusts are often a major pest to corn growers. Huge swarms of over 50 billion insects can come and destroy a farmer's crop in no time, they strip the plants of their leaves and stems. Locusts plagues often cause famine and starvation in some countries.
Corn is a beautiful vegetable to eat if steamed or boiled. Not only humans eat corn. Farmers grow corn crops for animals too. Below is an essay from Jemima who wrote us a story about corn. If you like corn or would like to know more about corn and how to grow it, how to store it, what diseases attack corn etc then this project is for you. Read Jemima's story and then tackle your own.
Questions are given to help you along with your project. You can use these to research about corn or find out your own facts from library books or the Internet. Make sure you ask an adult before searching the net. Not all web sites are suitable for children.
- In what types of climate can you grow corn?
- What is the flower at the top of the plant called?
- The long soft threads at the end of the cob are called?
- How can you tell when corn is ready for harvesting?
- How high can corn grow?
- Is corn a plant or grass?
- What is a corn ear?
- How is the cob protected?
- What is the plant's seeds called?
- What types of food products are made from corn?
- What is sorghum?
- How do pests effect corn crops?
- How can farmers control pests?
- How is corn oil extracted from the corn?
- How is corn harvested?
- What colours can corn be?
- Who discovered corn in the Americas and took it back to Europe?
Obtain some corn kernels and plant these in pots. Make sure it is the right time of the year to plant otherwise your corn won't come up. If there is a spare corner in your school garden or at home, plant them out when they are a few centimetres high. Water your corn regularly and watch them grow. After several weeks you will see the tassel appear and the cobs forming. When your corn is ready for picking the silk will be completely brown. Carefully peel some of the husk back to check if your corn is ripe if you are not sure. Steam or boil your corn cob and enjoy eating it.
Make your own corn plant
Collect waste material to make your own corn plant. You'll need some green card or paper for the leaves and stem. Attach roots made from yellow/brown string. Make a couple of corn cobs from yellow paper or use scrunched up newspaper and paint it yellow to make it look like corn. Wrap green or brown paper around it but show just enough yellow corn cob so others can see what it is. Hang brown silk of the tip of your corn cob. Don't forget the tassel at the top of the plant. Maybe you could take a photo of your corn plant and include it with your project.
(by Ingrid Griggs)