Is 'Corn Sweat' a Threat?

Jul 19, 2016

Credit Chantel Schmitt, 123rf Stock Photo

Numerous media outlets are reporting that increased amounts of ‘corn sweat’ could be affecting the heat index across the U.S. increasing rates of heat exhaustion. Paducah National Weather Service Meteorologist Kelly Hooper says there might be some confusion.

While the corn is sweating, it’s not contributing heat into the atmosphere, but humidity. Hooper says sweating is something most plants do.

"Evapotranspiration is where the leaves of plants put out moisture, which would increase the humidity, but not the temperature, so that is a common things that occurs with all living plants, they try to equalize with the humidity that is in the air,” says Hooper.

Still the increased humidity could be contributing to a ‘deadly heat dome’. Where a mixture of humid high temperatures can slow the human body’s ability to respond properly.

Director of Clinical Outreach at Baptist Health Paducah Dr. Patrick Withrow says the cumulative effect of several days of “weather like we have seen” hot and humid, takes a while for the body to recover.  

The amount of corn planted in the Commonwealth has increased by 100,000 acres since last growing season according to University of Kentucky Agriculture Economist Todd Davis.

Davis says the 2016 U.S. corn crop is the second largest since 2013 and the 5th largest since 1940.