The corn plant has a pithy noded stalk supported by prop roots. The staminate (male) flowers form the tassel at the top of the plant. The pistillate (female) flowers are the kernels on the cob, which is enclosed by a leafy husk beyond which extend threadlike styles and stigmas (the silk), which catch the pollen. The corn plant with its ornamental tassel and ears has been a motif of American art since prehistoric times.
The plant is a grass that was domesticated and cultivated in the Americas long before Europeans reached the New World. It is so changed from the ancestral wild grass that its original form has not been identified with certainty, and it has been so adapted to cultivation that it cannot sustain itself without human cultivation. It is probably a complex hybrid of several related New World grasses, e.g., teosinte (Euchlaena mexicana), a tropical American fodder plant in which the seeds are not united in a cob. The Native Americans had many varieties of corn, e.g., sweet corn, popcorn, and corn for corn meal. White, yellow, red, and blue corn were grown as distinct strains.
The easily produced and readily identifiable strains of corn made it a favorite subject for experimental genetics. The development of hybrid corn seed was an early (beginning of the 20th cent.) and revolutionary introduction of the principles of theoretical science into practical agriculture. At first ridiculed, the scientifically developed hybrids came to represent most commercially grown corn types. They resulted in higher yields, increased sugar and lowered starch content, and uniform plants bred to specification for mechanical harvesting. Most recently, genetic engineering has produced corn with added sweetness, disease resistance, and other desired traits.
As human food, corn is eaten fresh or ground for meal. It is the basic starch plant of Central and Andean South America, where it is still hand ground on metates to be made into tamales, tortillas, and other staple dishes. In the S United States it is familiar as hominy, mush, and grits. Starch, sugar, and oil are also extracted for many products, but the chief use of corn is as animal fodder. It is the primary feed grain of the United States, and in Europe this is almost the only use of corn. Corn is also as a raw material in the manufacture of ethanol for fuel.
See P. C. Mangelsdorf, Corn (1974); J. C. Hudson, Making the Corn Belt (1994).
The town was originally settled by German/Russian Mennonites. In the late 1800s, around the time of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Land Run, a Mennonite Brethren missionary stationed nearby invited fellow Mennonites from Kansas to homestead in the area. They brought along "Turkey Red" wheat, which grew well in the western Oklahoma soil. On its one-hundredth birthday the town received a historical marker celebrating this accomplishment.
There were 198 households out of which 32.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.1% were married couples living together, 6.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.17.
In the town the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 4.6% from 18 to 24, 21.8% from 25 to 44, 15.2% from 45 to 64, and 33.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 78.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 72.1 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $31,154, and the median income for a family was $33,281. Males had a median income of $23,750 versus $18,750 for females. The per capita income for the town was $15,632. About 14.4% of families and 14.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.1% of those under age 18 and 2.4% of those age 65 or over.