Corn: Zea Mays, family poaceae, commonly known as Maize.
Corn, a major source of food for both humans and animals, is grown in more countries than any other crop. The versatile plant can thrive in climates as diverse as the arid desert plains of the southwestern United States and the high Andean mountain plains of Ecuador and Peru. The temperate plains of the United States provide some of the best growing conditions for corn in the world, making the U.S. the world's top corn producer.
The majority of corn grown in the United States is "dent" corn, so called because the kernel typically forms a dent on the cap or crown at maturity. Dent corn is used for everything from livestock feed to corn syrup and sweeteners to ethanol and industrial products. Other major classifications of corn include: sweet corn, which is grown almost exclusively for human consumption; and value-enhanced corn, grown to provide specific traits or characteristics such as higher oil, starch or nutrition content.
World Corn Production and Trade
Corn is the United States' largest crop, in terms of both volume and value. The states of Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Minnesota account for more than 50 percent of U.S. corn production. Other major corn-producing states include Indiana, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Ohio and Kentucky.
The United States grew 42 percent of the world's corn in during fiscal year 2006, producing 282.3 million metric tons (11.1 billion bushels). Other major corn producing countries in 2006 included:
- China -139.4 million metric tons (5.5 billion bushels)
- Brazil - 41.7 million metric tons (1.64 billion bushels)
- European Union - 48.3 million metric tons (1.9 billion bushels)
- Mexico - 19.5 million metric tons (767 million bushels)
- Argentina - 15.8 million metric tons (622 million bushels)
- India - 15 million metric tons (590.5 million bushels)
The United States is not only the world's top corn producer, but also the top exporter. On average, about 20 percent of U.S. corn is exported. During fiscal year 2006 (October-September), the United States exported 56 million metric tons (2.2 billion bushels) - accounting for 68 percent of world corn exports. During the same period, other major corn exporters included Argentina (10.7 million metric tons, or 421 million bushels) and China (3.7 million metric tons, or 145 million bushels).
Japan is the largest and most consistent importer of corn in the world. The United States satisfies nearly all of Japan's demand. During fiscal year 2006, Japan imported 16.5 million metric tons (649 million bushels) of U.S. corn.
Mexico, Taiwan, Canada, Egypt and Colombia are also major corn importers and important markets for the United States.
Although used primarily to feed livestock, corn is a versatile grain with a wealth of uses. It is also processed into a multitude of food and industrial products, including starches, sweeteners, corn oil, beverage and industrial alcohol, and fuel ethanol. Thousands of foods and other everyday items - from toothpaste and cosmetics to adhesives and shoe polish - contain corn components.
Corn products are rapidly replacing petroleum in many industrial applications. Polylactide (PLA), a biodegradable polymer made from corn, is being used successfully in the manufacturing of a wide variety of everyday items such as clothing, packaging, carpeting, recreational equipment and food utensils. Because these products are biodegradable and made from a renewable resource, they offer tremendous environmental benefits.
For further information contact:
National Corn Growers Association
632 Cepi Drive
Chesterfield, MO 63005 U.S.A.
Phone: (636) 733-9004
Fax: (636) 733-9005
Corn Refiners Association, Inc.
1701 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. Suite 950
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (202) 331-1634
Fax (202) 331-2054
Renewable Fuels Association
One Massachusettes Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 289-3835