Related topics: crops

Maize-centric diet may have contributed to ancient Maya collapse

The question of how to best adapt to extreme climate is a critical issue facing modern societies worldwide. In "The Role of Diet in Resilience and Vulnerability to Climate Change among Early Agricultural Communities in the ...

How corn's ancient ancestor swipes left on crossbreeding

Determining how one species becomes distinct from another has been a subject of fascination dating back to Charles Darwin. New research led by Carnegie's Matthew Evans and published in Nature Communications elucidates the ...

Synchronizing food production can have disastrous effects

Crop failures are an important cause of food price spikes, conflict and food insecurity. The likelihood of local crop failures being catastrophic at the global level is exacerbated when they happen at the same time —that ...

Protecting small farms in Mozambique from drought

During the months that Jonathan Malacarne spent traveling from village to village in rural Mozambique, the weather could be dry and dusty or soaking wet from heavy rain. Either way, people from the community would walk and ...

Scientists identify a novel target for corn straw utilization

Plant cell walls, as repositories of fixed carbon, are an important source of biomass, which is mainly composed of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. However, the complex lignin structure makes it a rather inefficient ...

Crop yield in maize influenced by unexpected gene 'moonlighting'

Maize is a staple crop that came from humble beginnings. If you look at its wild ancestor, teosinte, the plant looks nearly unrecognizable. Human selection has persuaded the maize plant to grow in a way that produces higher ...

Automated disease detection in maize

Maize is perhaps the single, most-important cereal crop in the world. It is consumed by millions of people and is a staple for a large proportion of the global population. It is also used for animal feed and its total production ...

I fight anti-GMO fears in Africa to combat hunger

As a child, I remember feeling hungry most of the time. Growing up in rural Tanzania, I walked to school barefoot and most of the time had one meal a day. After school, I helped my mother with various farming chores, including ...

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Maize

Maize (Zea mays L. ssp. mays, pronounced /ˈmeɪz/; from Spanish: maíz after Taíno mahiz,) known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable or starch. The Olmec and Mayans cultivated it in numerous varieties throughout central and southern Mexico, cooked, ground or processed through nixtamalization. Between 1700 and 1250 BCE, the crop spread through much of the Americas. The region developed a trade network based on surplus and varieties of maize crops. After European contact with the Americas in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, explorers and traders carried maize back to Europe and introduced it to other countries. Maize spread to the rest of the world due to its ability to grow in diverse climates. Sugar-rich varieties called sweet corn are usually grown for human consumption, while field corn varieties are used for animal feed and as chemical feedstocks. Approximately 37% of the United States' acres are corn fields.

Maize is the most widely grown crop in the Americas with 332 million metric tons grown annually in the United States. Approximately 40% of the crop - 130 million tons - is used for corn ethanol. Transgenic maize (Genetically Modified Corn) made up 85% of the maize planted in the United States in 2009. While some maize varieties grow to 12 metres (39 ft) tall, most commercially grown maize has been bred for a standardized height of 2.5 metres (8.2 ft). Sweet corn is usually shorter than field corn varieties.

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