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Oops! Even Corn Trivia Gurus Can Make a Mistake

Oops! Even Corn Trivia Gurus Can Make a Mistake
Time for a refresher course on number of kernels per bushel.

Everyone was quiet. There was tension in the air. It was the finals of the corn trivia contest at the Select Seed field day. The contest was put together and hosted by local radio station personalities out of Kokomo. What they wanted out of it was 10 minutes after each group went through to interview farmers for later stories and commercials.

OK, it wasn't exactly tense. The finalists were trying to get help on their answers frpm their buddies they brought with them. It was a fun event celebrating corn, and the winner walked away with nice prizes for participating. Maybe he even learned a thing or tow about corn.

One thing he didn't learn was how many kernels are in a bushel of corn! Even the radio station guys who put the quiz together were stumped on this one. Somewhere, they found the answer was 25,000 to 27,000 kernels per bushel. That's the answer they gave, reading from their prepared sheet. They put the questions together themselves.

The actual answer, according to the Purdue University Corn & Soybean Field Guide is 90,000 kernels per bushel. All you need do is think about how many seeds you get in a 50-pound sack of seed corn to know this one was off base. Most companies today sell in 80,000 kernel units. While the weight may vary up or down, it's usually around 50 pounds for most hybrids. A standard bushel of no. 2 yellow dent corn weighs 56 pounds.

The Field Guide includes the number of kernels because it uses it in the formula to estimate corn yields by counting ears and kernels. Recently, Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Extension corn specialist, said perhaps that number should be 85,000, so that the formula uses a division factor of 85, not 90, because today's modern hybrids tend to have fewer but bigger kernels.

This year, however, that may not be the case. With so many fields dying early, there could be cases where 95 for 95,000 kernels would be more accurate.

So if you're bored waiting for harvest and put together your own trivia game, be sure to include the question: How many kernels of corn in an average bushel of corn? The answer is 90,000, not 25,000. You won't get any prizes fo it, but you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you're right.

TAGS: USDA Extension
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