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Today’s ag report: Corn sweat

Does corn really sweat?
Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 3:16 PM CDT
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Illinois city, ILLINOIS (KWQC) - Iowa and Illinois are in the corn belt region, where vast amounts of corn are produced. These two states are also the top two states for corn production.

There are more than 20 million bushels in most of Iowa.
There are more than 20 million bushels in most of Iowa.(KWQC)

The corn can impact the humidity during the summer, and that’s when we hear about corn sweat. The formal name is evapotranspiration. The plants draw water up from the soil and during the growing season plants naturally release that moisture. The moisture is released through small pores, called stomata, on the surface of their leaves. That moisture is picked up by the winds, increasing humidity.

Humidity increases in areas surrounding a corn field in the summer.
Humidity increases in areas surrounding a corn field in the summer.(KWQC)

When temperatures and dew points are close together, water beads form on the leaves, hence why we say the corn “sweats.”

With advancements in methods and technology, farmers have been able to corn closer together. Tom Watson, who has been farming for 46 years, has seen these changes firsthand.

“Years ago, we planted populations in the 25-27,000 plants per acre range. Nowadays with genetics we’re in the 34,000 plants per acre range,” says Illinois City farmer Tom Watson.

That helps increase yield, but also adds to the corn sweat factor.

An acre of corn can release up to 3,000-4,000 gallons of water per day. On the Watson farm they have around 500 acres of corn. With that in mind, those 500 acres could release up to 2 million gallons of water daily.

“It’s horrible out there this time of year!” Watson explained.

The additional moisture from the corn can add 5 to 10 degrees to the dew point on a hot, summer day, which will only make it feel worse for us.

The heat index chart factors in relative humidity with temperature to determine how it will...
The heat index chart factors in relative humidity with temperature to determine how it will feel outside.(KWQC)

Above is the heat index chart that helps determine what the temperatures will feel like with relative humidity factored in. For example at 90 degrees with a relative humidity at 50% it will feel like 95 degrees. If the relative humidity was 15% higher at that temperature, it would feel like 103 degrees.

Have questions? Send them to news@kwqc.com.

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