Don’t Sweat the “Corn Sweat”!

One word describes our current environment… HOT. A few politicians are finding themselves in hot water amidst scandal and allegations. Outside temperatures also are heating up, and now some folks say it’s because the corn is sweating!

Corn sweat is adding to heat misery in the Midwest,” was the headline of a USA Today story. “Like a giant wick, a growing corn plant pulls moisture out of the soil,” the article read. While covering last week’s heat wave, CNN wrote that a dangerous heat dome was forming over the United States and “corn sweat could be to blame.”

We have to blame it on something or someone, right? Thankfully, a reporter for The Washington Post set the record straight by letting her readers know that corn sweat definitely does not cause a wave? At most, [corn sweat] could make it more uncomfortable for some places.

I’d like to add that corn doesn’t sweat, per se. Just like pigs don’t sweat. Pigs exhale moisture, and plants lose water through evapotranspiration. There are a whole host of factors that affect evapotranspiration: temperature, humidity, wind speed, water availability and soil type.

But let’s move on to what most people really want to talk about… global climate change. Back when Native Americans followed the buffalo, the Midwest prairie was covered in very tall grass as far as you could see. How is that different from fields of corn? “Corn is unique in that it belongs to a family of plants that transpire, or sweat, both day and night.” As a result, Northern Illinois University researchers say heat waves today are different than they were a half century ago because they are more frequently accompanied by extreme spikes in humidity,”

The Midwest isn’t the only place that experiences such “tropical weather.” I recently had a very interesting trip to Japan. “Hot and extremely humid” best describes the weather we experienced, yet very little corn is grown there. In Iowa’s sister state of Yamanashi, the vegetation was very lush. In Tokyo, it was just as humid but one could hardly find a blade of grass! There are, however, miles and miles of concrete in Toyko. Perhaps all of that asphalt and cement held in the heat, making the city feel warmer than it really is. Or perhaps the 13.6 million people, who live and breathe, actually add to the city’s humidity by exhaling CO2.

Sound ridiculous? Where there must be an explanation, right? It seems to me our society has gotten to the point where we need to look for a problem and fix it. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with wanting to make the world a better place. Some Americans, however, have started to look for problems – or make up problems – to solve to make us feel better. Everyone need sa cause!

Global climate change is one of these causes. Farmers have been accused of denying climate change but nothing could be farther from the truth. Farmers always watch “the weather” because weather is one of our biggest challenges when growing crops. We keep an eye on the forecast when making decisions from planting and applying herbicides to cutting hay and combining crops. Weather also plays a role in how long it takes us to get our livestock to market and even dictates what activities we do on a given day.

Climate changes! Let’s remember the Ice Age and the 1930s Dust Bowl. Let’s also keep in mind that one forest fire (caused by government ineptness) or one volcano, changes our climate faster and farther than anything man has ever done!

Now government regulation is beginning to overtake weather as our biggest challenge. The shrinking middle class is always talked about by all our politicians, yet this class suffers the most from regulations that increase the cost of food and energy! The most affluent Americans are able to take increased costs in stride, and the poor are subsidized by the tax payers.

It’s important to think about the consequences that actions have down the line. And when a certain action doesn’t lead to the intended result, politicians are famous for assigning blame. Know for certain that “corn sweat” isn’t a real problem and instead focus on the real issues at hand. I have witnessed how many regulations, which were meant to save the small farmer, actually put the small farmer out of business. Let’s make changes where we can, but let’s make sure the result is what we intended!