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Broomcorn
broomcorn plants Here's a crop that was grown many years ago in Kansas, but it is interesting. It is a grassy crop (monocotyledon).  What do the heads (at the top of the plants) look like?  What do you think is made from these heads?  Hint: the name of the crop is broomcorn. 
broomcorn product-shows a broom That's right!  Broomcorn heads are used to make brooms!  Today, most brooms are made from synthetic fibers, but you can still find some brooms made from broomcorn.
broomcorn seed These are broomcorn seeds.  They look similar to grain sorghum, but there is a difference.  Broomcorn seeds are oval compared to sorghum seeds that are more round.  Why do they look similar?  Could it be because these two crops are related?  These two crops are from the same family and genus.

 

Peanuts
peanut plant This next crop is not grown on many acres in Kansas, in fact, it is considered to be another southern U.S. crop, like cotton. This is a peanut plant which you might find interesting.  The peanuts develop below ground, but the plant's flowers are above ground. How can this happen?  After flowering, a stem like structure called a peg, grows from the flower into the ground, then the peanut pod forms underground.     
peanut pegs If you pull the plant out of the ground and turn it over you will find the peanut pods.  Peanut plants have nodules on their roots that contain bacteria.  These bacteria take nitrogen from the air and make the nitrogen available to the plant.  The plant uses the nitrogen to create proteins.  Peanuts, like soybeans are an excellent source of protein for human and animal use.
peanut pods with seeds The pods that are found below ground, produce the seeds.  Peanuts have pods and make their own nitrogen.  Do peanuts belong to the legume family like soybeans do?  Yes, they do.
peanut products So, you know we can eat peanuts, but can you think of any products made from peanuts? 

 

Sesame
sesame plants Sesame was grown years ago in Kansas on a limited basis.  It grows to about 5 feet tall and has interesting bell-shaped flowers and seed pods.  Sesame requires a warm climate with a long frost-free period, so it is grown in more tropical climates around the world.
sesame pods These are the pods that contain the seeds.  Youíve heard the expression "open sesame" on TV cartoon shows.  Well, that refers to sesame pods that open and the seeds fall out.  Sesame growers donít want the pods to open before they harvest the plants because they will lose the seeds.  There are sesame types that donít open as quickly and farmers prefer to grow them.
sesame seed We know that sesame seeds can be found on hamburger buns, but do you know how sesame was originally used?  Thousands of years ago in the Middle East, Africa, and India, the seeds were crushed to produce an oil that was used for lighting lamps and for cooking oil.  Sesame oil is still used for cooking.

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