Recent reports from CNN and the Washington Post show that corn crops may be increasing humidity in the Midwest due to the phenomenon of “corn sweat.” Yes, you read that correctly: corn sweat – as in perspiration. In the hot summer months, corn literally sweats, releasing water vapor into the air during heat waves, contributing to more humidity and a higher heat index.
With 2016 marking the third-largest corn planting since World War II, the summer may be stickier than ever in the Midwest and other regions across the country. Our recent analysis of USDA data revealed that since the Renewable Fuel Standard was established in 2005, corn and soybean plantings — many destined to meet biofuels mandates – have skyrocketed, now accounting for more than half of all U.S. crop acreage. That’s a lot of sweaty corn.
We know that the RFS has led to the conversion of wild animal habitats to farmland, high water usage and a growing dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico — but corn sweat and a more humid summer are among the stranger side effects we’ve noticed while turning up the heat on the ethanol mandates.
For more on the radical transformation of American agriculture since the RFS was established, click here to read our blog post.