It's corn's fault: Crops contribute to how sticky it feels outside, scientists say


Minnesota has a lot of corn – and that may contribute to how sticky it feels during the summer, and how severe the storms are.

Why? Because corn sweats.

During last week's heat wave, the National Weather Service in Iowa addressed the idea of corn sweat, tweeting out that it can add 5-10 degrees to the dew point on a hot summer day.

And the higher the dew point, the more miserable it feels outside.


How does 'corn sweat' work?

Corn and other crops pull moisture out of the soil, and some of that moisture escapes the plant through its leaves and goes into the atmosphere, the National Center for Atmospheric Research explained.

The hotter it is outside, the more water the air absorbs from a plant's leaves. So, if an area has more corn, there's more corn sweat, which can make the humidity higher than it would be otherwise, the Washington Post said.

And the Midwest has a lot of corn. The United States corn crop is at an estimated 94.1 million acres this year, up 7 percent from last year and the third-highest planted acreage in the U.S. since 1944, the USDA says.

Minnesota is home to more than 8 million acres of corn, according to the latest Census of Agriculture.


University of Minnesota professor Timothy Griffis, who has been studying this idea for about a decade, told MPR News more than 60 percent of local moisture comes from Minnesota's farm fields.

And moisture in the air doesn't just make it feel gross and sticky outside, it also can increase the severity of thunderstorms and cause "more intense precipitation," Griffis told MPR News.

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