Iowa Fact or Myth: Corn Makes it More Humid
I am married to a farmer. My wife, a lifelong Iowan, born and raised. She farms with her father on the family farm in northeast Iowa. Of the crops they grow, corn accounts for about 80% of the crop most years. This is key to our story because a couple of nights ago, I totally blew her mind with one simple phrase: "All the corn grown here in Iowa raises our humidity." She looked at me, thought for a moment, then said something like, "well maybe it raises it a bit. but overall it doesn't do much", or something like that.
This put me in a tuff spot since I didn't want to be the guy who 'mansplains' to an actual farmer. Instead, I'm writing this and will email it to her. I prefer the passive-aggressive route, clearly.
Let's explore: does the corn grown in Iowa really raise humidity?
Short answer, yes. It really does. In fact, the Washington Post explored this last summer and determined Iowa can actually be more humid than Miami in the summer because of our corn crop. They didn't say 'Midwest', they specifically said Iowa. They even had a term for it, corn sweat. Ew? Not exactly, we'll circle back to this term in a moment.
So, alright, we've determined corn does increase humidity - but how? What's the science behind this? In order to figure this out, I reached out to Iowa's News Now meteorologist Rebecca Kopelman. Not only because of her job title, but she's a Florida native, so she gets humidity.
It's science, stupid!
Rebecca settled things quickly with her explanation.
As the corn sweats (basically) it releases more moisture into the atmosphere and since we have A LOT of corn in Iowa it will increase the humidity and make it feel stickier outside.
Aha, so there it is, the meaning of corn sweat and, the reason why corn causes the humidity to tick up in Iowa during the summer. Let's just be glad it's because of the corn, and not the manure that gets spread on those fields. That would also raise the small factor...
The next time one of your non-midwestern buddies moans and groans about the humidity, rub it in their face that Iowa's got 'em beat. We've all got a case of the corn sweats. And as far as my wife goes, she just texted me and told me I was right. Aww shucks.