Corn is one of the oldest grain crops on our planet. On a large part of the planet, it is called maize, and in our country, until the beginning of the twentieth century, it bore this name. The primary focus of corn origin is Mexico, the secondary one is Peru and Bolivia. Her wild ancestor is unknown. Scientists believe that this culture was domesticated by the ancestors of modern Mexicans over 10 thousand years BC. This statement is confirmed by the find of archaeologists who discovered, during excavations in Mexico City, corn pollen, which is almost 55,000 years old!
The Maya Indians considered corn as a divine cereal, which is a symbol of the Earth, one of the four Holy Gifts of the Great Gods. One of the most popular Maya gods, Yum Kaash, was depicted as a young man with an ornament on his head made of corn leaves, resembling an unfolding ear of corn. A special hieroglyph in the form of a grain of corn corresponded to it. All this underlines the great importance that corn had for the ancient Indians. Until now, some peoples of the world call it the Great Maize.
For centuries, corn was the staple food of the ancient inhabitants of the New World. By the time America was discovered, on the territory of almost the entire continent, the local population was successfully growing all subspecies of corn, including sugar corn. At the beginning of the 16th century, corn seeds were brought by the Spaniards to Europe, and by the Portuguese to the west coast of Africa and India, and in 1575 to China. Corn came to Russia in the 17th century, first to the Caucasus through Iran and Turkey, and a little later, in the 18th century, through Bulgaria and Romania, to Moldova and Ukraine. In a fairly short period of time, corn in Russia began to be widely cultivated in the Kuban, near Moscow, and then in the Urals, in Eastern and Western Siberia and in the Far East.
Today corn grows on all continents of the Earth except Antarctica. In terms of the sown area, corn is in second place in the world, yielding absolute leadership to wheat. The three world leaders in corn production are the United States (almost a quarter of the world's area), as well as China and Brazil. The leading three are followed by the European Union, Ukraine, Argentina, India, Mexico, Canada, South Africa.
In our country, vegetable sugar corn is grown mainly in the Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories and the Rostov Region, it is also cultivated in the Black Earth Region and in the more northern regions, but in smaller volumes.
Since no wild ancestor of corn has been found, scientists speculate that corn looked very different in ancient times. She was short, and the ear was located at the top of the plant, the ear was crowned with a panicle on top. In this form, corn could be easily pollinated by the wind, and from the "bare" ear, the seeds easily spilled out onto the ground, so that later they could sprout and give life to the next generation of plants. Occasionally, even today, such corn can be seen in our fields, when, for some reason, a genetic malfunction occurs and the corn returns to its original form.
There are two main versions about the origin of modern corn. According to the first version, about a thousand years ago, there was a crossing of ancient corn and a wild-growing cereal - teosinte. The result is a plant very similar to modern corn. According to another version, many centuries ago there was a mutation of corn, as a result of which the ear was fixed in the leaf axil, and ancient farmers, having appreciated the taste of tender seeds, began to breed this particular corn variety. This version can be confirmed by the results of excavations in the "Cave of the Bats" near the Rio Grande River. A two-meter cultural layer was found there, in each layer of which corn cobs were found.So, if in the upper layers the corn is quite reminiscent of modern corn, then in the lower layers the ears are very small, and the seeds are enclosed in films, like in modern cereals.
Continued - in articles
- Sweet corn varieties
- Growing of vegetable sugar corn
- Medicinal properties of corn
- Cooking corn