Science behind evapotranspiration, or ‘corn sweat’

Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 2:38 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

QUAD CITIES, Iowa/Ill. (KWQC) - It is that time of year in eastern Iowa and western Illinois when the corn crop reaches maturity, releasing copious amounts of moisture in the air and creating higher humidity.

The scientific term is known as “evapotranspiration.”

The NOAA glossary defines it as a “combination of evaporation from free water surfaces and transpiration of water from plant surfaces to the atmosphere.”

Evaporation essentially comes from a body of water such as a lake or a creek, or water from soil; while transpiration comes from water moving from the soil, through the plants’ leaves, and into the atmosphere.

Evapotranspiration is not confined to just corn. It can also come from trees, soybeans, and even flowers.

According to the University of Illinois Extension of the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, at its peak, corn can “sweat” or release up to four thousand gallons of water vapor, per acre, per day, into the atmosphere.

This process can make it feel more uncomfortable because of the increased dew points.