Like many other types of vegetables, corn comes in several varieties. Sweet corn provides tasty kernels for human consumption, while field corn supplies feed for livestock, silage and processing. Fields growing field corn, also known as grain corn, account for more acreage than any other single crop in the United States. These annual crops thrive in areas with average soils and moderate precipitation. With four main varieties of seeds, farmers and gardeners grow field corn to feed to their livestock or sell for commercial use in products that contain corn meal or corn oil.
This type of field corn provides grains for processing into ingredients for baking. Used in items like tortilla chips, flour corn contains high amounts of starch. Also called soft corn, this type of field corn produces short, flat kernels with soft centers. Easy to grind, this type of corn comes in white and shades of blue.
Waxy corn supplies feed for livestock and an ingredient for thickening foods. The small kernels contain high amounts of amylopectin, a type of starch. This starchy corn contains a waxy outer shell, giving this field corn its name.
Also called Indian corn, this variety of field corn produces hard kernels that contain a starchy endosperm inside the outer layer. The kernels appear rounded or short and flat. These kernels maintain their shape as they dry and shrink. Although some farmers grow flint corn in the United States, farmers in Central and South America produce the majority of this type of field corn.
If you purchase feed for your livestock, it may contain this type of corn. Used mainly as a livestock feed, this corn also provides ingredients for industrial products. Many people think of this type of corn when they refer to field corn. The kernels tend to shrink on the upper surface as they dry, causing the appearance of a slight depression, or dent, on the surface. With its hard, outer shell, field corn comes in a range of shades between red and white.