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Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Facts

Corn and Popcorn


If you used these facts, along with the "Fruits, Nuts, and Veggies, Oh My" booklet, please let us know by answering a few quick questions. Your class might be featured on the website as a result!

"And sure it was God's good providence that we found this Corne, for else we know not how we should have done." -Gov. Bradford of Plymouth Colony

  • Corn is produced across much of Oklahoma, mostly in the eastern part of the state and in the Panhandle, where much of the crop is irrigated.
  • In Oklahoma corn is harvested for either grain or silage, with most of the grain going to dairies, feedlots, and poultry operations. On an average year, around 25 million bushels are grown for grain with a yield of 130 bushels per acre.
  • Native Americans taught the European settlers to plant corn, which they called "maize."
  • There are many different kinds of corn. Popcorn is made from one kind of corn that is allowed to dry on the stalk. The corn on the cob we like to eat is called “sweet corn.
  • The maize plant is an American native. Recent evidence shows it was first domesticated by farmers in southwestern Mexico at least 8,700 calendar years ago.
  • Maize was domesticated from a wild grass called Balsas teosinte.
  • Christopher Columbus found native Americans growing corn in Cuba in 1492.
  • By the time Columbus arrived, it was being grown from Canada to the tip of South America.
  • When the colonists came to America, they dried corn and ground it as meal for flour. They used the ground corn in porridge, cake and bread. Fresh or sweet corn, the kind we like to eat as corn on the cob, was not developed until the 1700s. Before then corn was only used in its dried form.
  • Popcorn
  • Americans consume 16.5 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually, more than anyone else in the world. About 30 percent of that is eaten outside the home - in theaters, ballparks, schools, etc.
  • One cup of popcorn provides 1.3 grams of dietary fiber.
  • Popcorn has more protein, phosphorus and iron than potato chips, an ice cream cone, pretzels or soda crackers.
  • Popcorn pops because heat builds steam pressure inside the seed.
  • Archaeologists have found ears of popcorn in the Bat Caves of New Mexico nearly 5,600 years old.
  • Most popcorn is grown in the US, but some is also grown in South Africa, Hungary, Spain, Greece, Yugoslavia, France, Italy, Israel, Australia, China and most South American countries.
  • Europeans don't care for popcorn, but the Chinese love it.
  • China ranks second in the production of corn, after the US.
  • Corn has been grown in China since the 1550s. No one knows exactly how it got there.
  • The average ear of corn has 800 kernels in 16 rows.
  • It takes 25 gallons of water to grow one ear of corn.
  • Corn is measured in bushels. A bushel is about 72,800 kernels of corn..
  • About 60 percent of harvested corn is fed to livestock, and 25 percent is exported. The rest is used to make an amazing variety of products.
  • Corn flour, cornstarch, cornmeal, corn oil, corn syrup and cereal are all made from corn. Other products made from corn include baby foods, margarine, detergents, sandpaper, chewing gum, road de-icers, antibiotics, potato chips, plastics, cosmetics and rubber tires.
  • The US Department of Defense is testing the use of corn starch sugar, an agricultural by-product, to quickly remove toxic materials from groundwater. It's looking like the sugar's chemical structure attracts such wastes as solvents, pesticides and hydrocarbons.