Corn

Health Power

More than just a source of starch and carbohydrates. Corn contributes to heart health, lung health, energy production, metabolism and memory. Yellow corn higher in carotene lutein than white corn, hence yellow color. Lutein great for eyes. B vitamin folate helps prevent birth defects and lowers homocysteine in blood, a molecule linked to cardiovascular problems. Phytonutrient beta-cryptoxanthin found in corn (also oranges and red bell peppers) may protect lungs from carcinogens. B vitamin pantothenic acid helps maintain energy by breaking down carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Thiamin helps provide energy and contributes to brain health by helping synthesize acetylcholine, a crucial neurotransmitter for memory and neural function in general. Fiber aids healthy digestion and lowers total cholesterol. Whole grain foods like corn and wheat are rich in antioxidant phenolics, which work in synergy to help deal with adversity and prevent many diseases.

Vitamin and Mineral Content

Vitamins – B1 (Thiamin), B9 (Folate), C and B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Minerals – Phosphorus and Manganese

Disease prevention

Research incomplete on corn’s antioxidant activity and general potential to prevent disease. Nutrients are linked with lower risks of heart disease, colon cancer, lung cancer, macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease.

How to Grow

Among oldest, most widespread foods. Grows in warm weather. Young corn very sensitive to frost and transplants. Start outdoors after soil warms up. To start earlier, use peat pots so roots are undisturbed when transplanting. Choose plot with full sun in area where they will not shade other crops that need sun. Amend soil well with aged compost or very fertile plant mix. Corn prefers slightly acidic pH. If below 5.5, add lime or dolomite to raise. Pollinated by wind, so plant in rectangles with rows close together. To ensure good pollination, plant 6 or more rows together in a group. Plant seeds outdoors (two in every one-inch deep hole) when temperature rises above 70˚F. Space holes 8-12 inches. Cover holes with soil and compress a bit. Water thoroughly. Seeds will start showing after week one of watering. Keep weeds away, especially while plants are young. Cover surrounding area with mulch. Water regularly, especially on hot days. Corn is fully-grown and ready to harvest in about 3 months, when the top hairs turn brownish and kernels are plump.

Insect Control

Corn grown in highly fertile soil usually has few problems. Most common pests are flea beetles, earworms, cutworms and corn borers. Flea beetles are most damaging to young crops by chewing many small holes in leaves. Apply parasitic nematodes to soil. In extreme cases, spray with insecticide like rotenone. Corn borers enter the stalk below the tassel. Look for sawdust-like material next to small holes. Squeeze stalk to kill pest. Earworms feed on ear tips when little hairs emerge from the tips forming tassels. Look for them then and dispose. Cutworms chew on plant base just under surface. Attract ground beetles to eat them by growing ground cover nearby. Dig up area surrounding plant and hand pick or use cutworm collars on transplants.

Tips

Birds and raccoons can also be a problem during seed sowing and harvest. Aside from installing row covers, deter birds by getting rid of standing water, planting mulberry trees to distract them, removing trash and introducing an owl/scarecrow. A barrier (like taping ears to the stalk), night lighting or electric fencing will deter raccoons.

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