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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adams

Ears of Corn

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

AS SUMMER GLIDES THROUGH SEPTEMBER I’ve been reminded of the incredible bounty of food that can be found in our region. My most recent revelation came to me because of my fondness for fresh corn-on-the-cob purchased from our local purveyors who sell corn daily for about a month at their roadside stands along M-22. What a delight and taste treat these ears of corn offer.
The act of “shucking” corn reveals an amazing array of “secrets” that I’m confident most individuals are likely not aware of. This knowledge came to me years ago from my first boss while I was interning at an international seed company in Minnesota. Did you know that corn kernels are formed on the ear at the end of a pollen tube? We commonly call this anatomical feature “silk”. All those rows of seeds have been created each utilizing its own individual pollen tube to transfer microscopic pollen grains from the plant’s tassel. Isn’t that amazing?

My guess is most of us city folk had not a clue that all the strands of silk were a necessity in making what we refer to as an “ear of corn” or “corn-on-the-cob”.

Think about that miracle for just a bit.

I have always been amazed at what nature invests in the formation of a seed. It is a phenomenon that can take you on an adventure of discovery and awe. I’m still happy that such curiosity is in my universe because there is so much to discover and learn from our natural world.

Ask a farmer along M-22 and he’ll tell you why some of the rows are missing kernels -- another mystery to be explored at a future time.

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