Life from a Corn Plant’s Perspective

Part I.  Seed Corn Production

Breeders decided early on who I would be.  Using data, they chose my parents, and, unlike humans, I was born about 60 days after planting.  There was no pain, no need for drugs to ease the process, no classes that my parents took to avoid fainting in the field.  I might have been 10 days earlier but the farmer decided to plant me in 50 degree soil where I swelled up and nearly froze to death. (I’d like to poke his eye out with a strong leaf midrib.) From the time of conception, however, it was hell.  Pure hell.

At one point somebody pulled my tassel out and it stunted my growth.  For some reason they left others alone and I was teased all season long about my shorter stature.  Too, I thought I was going to die from disease. Fortunately they applied some special medicine after my parents teleconferenced with a corn doctor.  (The ugly spots and ooze began to clear up in a few days.)  I got really upset when some worms tried to eat me. It felt fine until a nibble turned into a bite.  I rewarded their aggressiveness with protein that sent them to bug heaven.

 In order to mature in 45 days (a feat no human has accomplished; some not even in 45 years), I had to endure heat, a lack of rain and ungodly winds that uprooted a lot of my siblings.  Some even broke in half.  I had the last laugh though – “look who’s short now!”  I sort of regret having said that as a bunch of them never stood back up.  They died. I really didn’t mind though because I got to use their sunlight and water which made me much bigger and longer.  My owners said that I was special.  Thankfully some farmers like bigger seed or I would have been fed to the hogs!

Photo courtesy of

When I matured, a special machine ripped me off the stalk.  It’s not nice when your butt gets pulled on without warning.  Throwing me into a truck they at least let me keep my husks on.  Otherwise I would have been cold, naked and afraid.  Fortunately, they put me into a drier where I warmed up and dried out.  After shelling and sorting me for my much-appreciated size, I was treated with special chemicals and put in a bag.  Now I sit here in dark, cold storage waiting to be ordered and shipped.  And, damn, it’s cold!  Frankly, it’s not much fun either being crammed together with 79,999 other seeds complaining about their upbringing.  Looking around, I see that some of my neighbors have been here for several years and are a bit cranky about it.

So, please, somebody hurry up and order me and ship me to a warmer place.  Oh, and for God’s sake, don’t mistreat me and don’t plant me in a cold environment.  I’ve had enough of that in my life already!

I want you to do well.  ~ph

(seed production field photo courtesy of Western Illinois University School of Agriculture)

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