The main types of garden and agricultural corn include:
– Sweet corn (Zea mays var. saccharata or Zea mays var. rugosa) is grown for canning, freezing, and don’t forget eating fresh on the cob! It comes in yellow, white, and bicolor varieties.
– Dent or field corn (Zea mays var. indentata) is grown for animal feed, ethanol, and commercial food processing, such as to produce cornmeal and the ever-present “corn” ingredients in processed foods including corn syrup, corn starch, and corn oil.
– Flint or Indian corn (Zea mays var. indurata) is grown more in Central and South America than North America. It is distinct in its kernel characteristics from dent corn but is used similarly.
– Flour corn (Zea mays var. amylacea) produces soft kernels with high starch content, and is used for commercial food processing and to make corn flour (different than cornmeal), such as for instant baking mixes.
– Popcorn (Zea mays var. everta) produces hard-shelled kernels used to make the popular movie snack, and which can readily be grown in the home garden.
Colorful varieties of flint corn, dent corn, and popcorn are often sold as “ornamental corn.”