The Odd (Actually, Even) Thing About Corn


Every ear of corn you have ever consumed is made up of an even number of kernel rows. Corn falls in the grass family, and is an inflorescence (a flowering plant with a cluster of flowers on a branch), so an ear of corn is the flowering part of the plant that is spiked or elongated in shape. The row number is always even because of the genetic formula which divides the cell in half, forming two rows from one, always resulting in an even number. Each ear of corn usually has 8 to about 22 rows although on average, an ear of corn has 800 kernels, arranged in 16 rows.

If you challenge this and after counting,  feel you’ve come up with an odd number of kernels to debunk this fact then look closer—chances are that if you look under a microscope, you’ll find evidence of the missing row that did not fully develop, which can occur if the plant was under stress during development.

Today, corn is the principle cash crop in this country, and the US is the largest producer and consumer of corn in the world. The “Corn Belt” includes the states of Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, and Kentucky. However, most of these states produce field corn for forms of consumption other than what we eat. The corn you’re eating is sweet corn, and most likely is coming from Florida, California, Washington, New York, or Georgia.