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Corn is a grassy crop as well as a cereal grain crop. Corn is an important Wisconsin crop. Corn is also a monocotyledon.  Mono means one and a cotyledon is a specialized leaf.  The cotyledon in corn is found in the inner white region of the seed.  The outer yellow layer is the endosperm.  The endosperm is the energy source for germination and initial growth of the plant.  Corn can be used for human consumption or a feed grain for animals. Corn grows in different stages.  These stages are labeled and described below.

Growing Corn

The Growth of Corn
The growth of corn is divided into two groups, vegetative and reproductive. The vegetative growth of corn includes the stalk, leaves, roots and tassel. After those are fully developed the corn is considered all grown up. At that point the corn tries to reproduce itself, which is the reproductive stage. When a corn plant reproduces itself, it grows ears of corn, just like the kind you eat called corn on the cob! All those little yellow kernels of corn are actually seeds, and each one is capable of growing into a whole new corn stalk.

Vegetative Emergence
The kernel is made up of four parts, the endosperm, pericarp, germ, and the tip cap. Of those four parts the endosperm and the germ are the most important. The germ is the only living part in the kernel, and from it grows the new cornstalk. To get started the germ eats the endosperm and uses the energy to grow until it has roots and leaves and can then produce energy on its own.

V1, V2, and V3
These stages of growth are recognizable by the number of leaves produced. V1 = one leaf, V2 = two leaves, and so on. Note, too, the development of the roots which make up almost more than 50% of the corn plant through V2 and into V3.

After that the plant material above ground begins to grow much more quickly than the roots.

At this stage of development the corn starts to really get tall, with lots of space between the sets of leaves. The spots where the ears will grow have begun to develop but can only be seen if you take the corn plant apart.

By V9 there are a lot of ear shoots developing, though they are still mostly hidden by the leaves. Not all of the ear shoots will turn into an ear of corn. The number of ears a corn stalk grows depends on many factors including water, nutrients from the soil, sunlight, and how closely together the corn plants have been planted. Corn stalks planted right next to each other will grow fewer ears of corn.

Rapid growth continues through this stage.

Notice the tassel beginning to show on top of the plant. The tassel produces pollen which will fall onto the silk protruding from the ears, thus fertilizing them.

By V18 the ears have begun to develop silk, that is, the long strands of string like matter that sticks out of the end of an ear of corn. The silk is there to collect the pollen which will fall from the tassel.

Vegetative Tasseling
It's during this final stage of vegetative growth that the tassel and silks fully emerge. This represents the maturity of the corn plant--it's all grown up!

When the corn is fully mature it will be anywhere from 5 to 7 foot tall (sometimes more) and will grow one or two ears. When the tips of the ears produce long strands of silky white material they are nearly ripe and ready to be picked. The silk should actually start to turn brown and the kernels should be full and produce a milky white fluid when broken. When they do, it's time to harvest the ears of corn. This can be done by pulling down quickly on the ear of corn and turning it at the same time. The ears of corn should be husked, boiled or grilled, and eaten soon after harvest to maintain maximum sweetness.


Information for this page was taken from the MI Kids web site.