If you've read the October issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer, you found a short, tongue-in-cheek piece about a corn trivia information game played at the Select Seed field day near Camden earlier this fall. The trivia stop forced people to think, and also rewarded winners with apparel and other prizes. A local radio station ran the trivia game while company reps and others took care of the serious business, such as what hybrids and combinations of traits and seed treatments customers might want to consider for the 2011 growing season.
There was just one problem with the game. I noted a large error. One of the questions asked how many kernels are in a bushel of corn. While that can vary depending upon the size of the kernels, they were looking for an average number. They announced the answer as 27,000 kernels.
Whoa- that didn't seem right. When using pre-season estimate formulas, you typically divide by a factor of 90, which is supposed to represent 90,000 kernels per bushel. And when you buy a bag of seed, most of them today are 80,000 kernels. And most weigh in the proximity of 50 pounds, although occasionally you may get a much smaller kernel and thus a lighter bag weight.
A bushel is 56 pounds. So if 80,000 kernels make up 50 pounds, more or less, that makes a guess of 90,000 kernels per bushel as reasonably close. So where did they get the 27,000 kernels per acre? It was obviously the wrong answer.
Then Bill Pickart, a retired farmer and former Master Farmer, who now works with Select Seeds, found a Website;. Along with other trivia, it contained the fact: a bushel of corn ahs 27,000 kernels! Perhaps the radio guys also got on the same site.
It also had this little supposed 'fact.' It said an average ear had 18 rows around- no problem there, and 800 kernels. Whoa- do the math- that's 50 kernels per row. Even Pickart had to admit that he wished his corn had 50 kernels in each row on an average ear.
"It's just more proof that you can find plenty of mis-information on the Internet," Pickart quipped.