Field Corn and Sweet Corn: What’s the Difference?

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Corn harvest in Illinois - September

Field Corn vs. Sweet Corn

Corn covers more of Illinois’ farmland than any other crop, yet you’ll need to find a backyard garden for some corn on the cob.

Despite common perception, field corn and sweet corn aren’t the same thing.

Field corn (pictured above) is used for livestock feed, ethanol production, manufactured goods and a food ingredient in the form of corn cereal, corn starch, corn oil and corn syrup. Also called “dent corn,” each kernel has a small dent on the end of it. Field corn accounts for more than 99% of the corn acreage in the United States.

Sweet corn is consumed as a vegetable and makes up less than 1 percent of all corn grown in the U.S. each year. As you can see in the photo below, the kernels are not dented.

Sweet corn recipes

Special varieties of corn are also grown specifically to produce popcorn or the type of corn used for corn chips.

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