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  • Medium term corn growing

    I’m very uncertain as to what I want to aim for in corn growing and seed saving.

    Im torn between the rather difficult aim keeping some varieties true to type on the one hand and going for an in-house grex on the other hand.At the moment I have a generous amount of saved seed from a conventional yellow corn Medzi (Organic Gardening describe it as extra sweet; I don’t know whether that’s Se or Sh2) and from Double Red. The Medzi numbered about 30 plants and the Double Red about 10. In both cases the seed was taken from only two or three plants.

    Is it worth sowing either of those next year, just as an experiment. Am I likely to get weak stunted plants?

    In the longer term, I could freeze these seeds and carry on growing a range of other varieties for the next two or three years. Then if the next year I plant them all together and saved seed from all the plants, will I have an effective grex from then on, as the gene pool will have quite a wide range? Or will I end up with a lot of tasteless tough cobs?!

    Are there other options which I’ve overlooked? If Double Red are Su (or are they SE?), should I avoid growing Sh2 varieties?

    Confusion reigns. Any thoughts gratefully received.

  • #2
    To keep sweetcorn requires 50 to 100 plants, which is a huge commitment. And you end up with a huge amount of seed. My compromise is to harvest the tops of cobs and leave the bottom inch to ripen seeds. Then I mix those in with the old seeds of the same variety and off they go back in the freezer. A new mix from the kilner jar for next time, which could be any of several years seeds or even some of the original seeds and any of the same variety that I have harvested in the mean time. So over time I get my many plants. I have so far not seen any deterioration. I did start off with a good packet with over 100 seeds, rather than relying entirely on my mixing products.

    I guess with two very different varieties you may need fewer seeds but you cannot guarantee that in your few cobs every other plant is included. Try it by all means, because what is there to lose? The experience and extra info will always be a gain.

    This year threw a spanner in the works, as the farmer right next to the garden had a huge field of corn. All cobs got eaten, as I did not have time to isolate mine.
    Last edited by Galina; 25-11-2020, 14:45.

    Comment


    • Jang
      Jang commented
      Editing a comment
      So you are keeping specific varieties separate? About how many varieties do you reckon to grow each year? Presumably you have some minor cross pollination or do you control through timing?

      Harvesting the top and leaving the bottom is a good idea which I'd seen you mention in another thread. One I definitely intend to try.

      I have maize growing in neighbouring fields too. So far not nearer than about 300 or 400 metres away. Not ideal even at that distance and they could move closer any time.  I hope your neighbouring farmer practises rotation and the corn doesn't come back for a few years.

  • #3
    I don't know the difference between sweet and supersweet. All I know is that the sweet kernels dry wrinkly and the flour corn or agricultural corn dries to round kernels. You will never need to worry about non sweet corn, as you can see in a mixed, dried cob which seeds are sweet and which are not.

    I only grow one variety per year. A quick glance at the seeds to make sure there are no round ones. And with high hedges either side in the old garden, I never worried about wind pollen transmission, unless there was corn close by and as there is almost no corn grown in the old location, it was not an issue.
    Last edited by Galina; 25-11-2020, 14:55.

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    • Galina
      Galina commented
      Editing a comment
      If you are used to very sweet corn, it is more bland, but to me it was fine and tasty and most of all, early.

    • Jang
      Jang commented
      Editing a comment
      I think, as you perhaps imply, that a lot of people are so used to very sweet corn that the more corny corn doesn’t appeal. I grew Hopi Blue this year for the first time and to my surprise really enjoyed the less sweet, more mealy taste. There are interesting possibilities of getting away from extremely sweet corn into more corny corn, I think.
      Last edited by Jang; 26-11-2020, 18:51.

    • Galina
      Galina commented
      Editing a comment
      That is a good way of putting it Jan. As a diabetic and not having eaten actual sugar for ten years it tastes very sweet to me anyway, one of the foods to eat in moderation. So my flavour report perhaps needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

  • #4
    I guess temporary high hedges, like enclosing the sweetcorn square with tall beans on all sides, would mitigate against wind pollination to a degree, but yes, I am having to rethink my approach and hope the farmer does crop rotate.

    Comment


    • Jang
      Jang commented
      Editing a comment
      Would cross pollination show up immediately in round kernels? Did you find any this year?

    • Galina
      Galina commented
      Editing a comment
      Did not look for any this year, gave up on any idea of seed saving this year because of the much larger field next door. So none of my kernels ever got to the dry stage where you would see it.

    • Galina
      Galina commented
      Editing a comment
      As usual the germ inside the seed is the crossed bit. So you see the difference in round vs wrinkled or angular seeds as soon as they are dry. I assume that sweet is recessive and any cross between sweet and non sweet would show up as round. Round can be removed as it is visible.

  • #5
    Medzi I believe are sh2 and a sister line to Damaun, there's another one in the series too, I think beginning with T but I can't remember for the moment. Medzi is mid at 100days, Damaun early at 95 days and T is midlate at 105 days. But I've only grown Damaun so no idea how the days to maturity work out in practice. 5 days from an early to a mid doesn't seem to be much of a margin to me.
    Being a shrunken supersweet type I found they are super easy to notice unwanted cross-pollinated kernals. I had quite a few on some of my saved cobs, though I couldn't really tell at the eating stage.

    What have you decided to go for this year?


    Comment


    • #6
      Thanks for clarifying that Medzi are sh2. I find it frustratingly difficult to source information as to what corn is what. Do you find information by sheer persistence and dogged searching of a wide range of sites?
      information about day numbers is also crucial of course and equally difficult to find.

      I’m not sure about this year’s planting at this moment. I have some mainstream basic yellow Se on the go - Swift and Lark - and have sown Bloody Butcher and Fiesta, but just now seem to have mislaid some other seeds so I’m in a bit of a tizzy!

      Bloody Butcher is 110 days (there is at least information available about this one) so should be well clear of the yellow early ones.

      Comment


      • Galina
        Galina commented
        Editing a comment
        Here is a lot more information including the breeder's name and how these were bred. Basically dehybridised. Hope Google translate does it justice. It would appear they are very similar to each other, but grouped by maturity. http://www.sativa-rheinau.ch/dateien...ten/Damaun.pdf

      • Galina
        Galina commented
        Editing a comment
        Damaun, Mezdi, Tramunt is the order and it means early medium and late in the Ladin language, spoken in a part of Switzerland.

      • jayb
        jayb commented
        Editing a comment
        "Damaun, Mezdi, Tramunt is the order and it means early medium and late", seems so obvious now you point it out. "Ladin language, spoken in a part of Switzerland", great that they used these.

    • #7
      Yes, sometimes just searching about gets results other times I never get anywhere. But for these I do remember a few years back I was searching for a supersweet op corn and came across New Mama Super Sweet at Adaptive seeds, they later added some more information to the page which left a trail to follow. https://www.adaptiveseeds.com/produc...sweet-organic/ . It was another few years before Damaun, Satvia and Tramunt (thank you Galina) became available to buy in the UK.

      Bloody Butcher is 110 days (there is at least information available about this one) so should be well clear of the yellow early ones.
      Swift and Lark x Bloody Butcher and Fiesta. Hmm, shame, sounds like that would be the makings of some gorgeous multi-coloured sweetcorn!
      I've been thinking about a similar cross, along the lines of Stowell's Evergreen and/or a bi coloured crossed with Fiesta or Glass gem but sadly, I think I've already started more than I can handle this year. Hope you find your seeds- I know the feeling i'm forever putting seeds or notes somewhere safe!!!!!!!

      Comment


      • Jang
        Jang commented
        Editing a comment
        Interesting. I’m still dogged by the fear of ending up with lots of tough inedible corn.
        I think Fiesta is a flint corn and Bloody Butcher a dent corn and while I’m looking forward to trying grinding for flour, I’d like to have some sweet enough for eating off the cob. I’d like to break free from this caution and anxiety though!

        The ones I’ve mislaid are Triffid’s precious Magic Manna and Hooker’s Sweet Indian. Sometime overnight it occurred to me that I might have put them in the freezer but I’m away from home till Friday so can’t check. Fingers crossed. If found they will complicate matters beautifully!

        I’d be very interested to hear what you’re growing and how you’re intending to handle them.

    • #8
      I'm a bit out of touch, but from what I remember crossing sweetcorn with a flint should end up with f1's which can subsequently be selected for eating corn, dent corn too. But I guess there are the numbers needed to be grown and I've not done it so I don't know the rates of usable cobs! Whether that might mean you end up with sweet flour I don't know. You could try growing just a couple of sweet corn alongside Fiesta and Bloody butcher and detassel them then you get the corn you want and some crossed seeds to maybe experiment with.

      Sounds promising, hope those seeds are in the freezer.

      I'm growing Painted Mountain in the smaller poly-tunnel, this year I'm trialling growing 2-3 plants in a station with slightly wider planting spacings, but overall more plants in the area. There are enough plants to save for seed, they have about a month's head start from other varieties and should miss any local fodder crops too, I find the poly protects them somewhat too.

      Outside I'm growing Zola Rose selection (meant to be an experimental sh2 variety), last year I ended up with a lovely selection of whites, pinks and purpley reds, looks like a lot of segregating going on, which makes me think it was ok to save seeds from the plants I had, although this year I am growing out a larger number. I'm hoping they do well outside this year after growing them in the poly-tunnel last year, overall I had a good crop, I also grew a few plants outside and they did not as well. I'm thinking if they don't there's not much point keeping them going although they tasted great and it is early days in selecting.

      Also started at the same time as Zola Rose I've some Damaun, they did well last year and I enjoyed eating them. I saved some cobs for seed and I've just started a few to grow and compare with fresh bought seed.

      I'm thinking to plant Zola Rose upwind from Damaun to keep Zola's as pure as possible but I'm not too worried about some mingling. I would like to cross a few if their timings are right.
      If there is any field corn around in my area then any cobs I'm saving for seed should be pretty obvious to make them easy to discard once dried.

      I found some older seeds, probably not viable but I couldn't throw them out without trying some, and if anything grows it'll go in the big polly. I might start a few Stowells Evergreen and maybe a flint too for fun! Again it'll go in the big polly T

      Comment


      • Jang
        Jang commented
        Editing a comment
        Good stuff. Are these all likely to be sweet for eating young off the cob?
        Exciting to anticipate what variations you might end up with.

      • jayb
        jayb commented
        Editing a comment
        They should all be fresh eating with the 'mix' predominately su types with a sprinkle of se, and if they grow well I'm hoping for some to eat, but more I'll be growing them for saving seed. Time to eat them will be another year. I believe Martian Purple is su, it's amazing how some of these are still viable, perhaps they get this from the Hopi side? I'll try and work out how old they are. My current thoughts are if I get enough MP germinated and growing on I may try and get a spot for them outside and aim at saving seed. But more likely they go in the mix and or a back cross with Double Red and Martian Jewel types. I know it's really a jumble of all sorts, some of the combinations of bi-colours might be interesting, I'm not sure how they will work with the reds, perhaps a bit muddy looking. I've got my eye on white multicolour bi kernels on red cobs!

      • Jang
        Jang commented
        Editing a comment
        Exciting possibilities. Looking forward to hearing how they turn out. Fingers crossed for white multicolour on red cobs! That would be amazing.

    • #9
      Aggh, I'd forgotten how to post a picture!

      Zola Rose, 2-3 seed per module, but looks to be mostly three, I had sown by colour, whites, hint of pink, reds etc but they are showing a surprising amount of colour even the ones which are meant to be white!


      Click image for larger version

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      • Jang
        Jang commented
        Editing a comment
        The colouring on the Zola Sweet seedlings looks wonderful. Colourful but delicate at the same time.
        As Zola Sweet is scarce now as far as I can tell, it would be great if you can keep it going.

      • jayb
        jayb commented
        Editing a comment
        Ta, nice description, I was kind of thinking they are all a pit pale yellow. I'm hoping because they are just out from the propagator rather than I've put them in naff compost.
        I'll try to keep them going as I really like them, but I'm not sure I understand them yet if that makes sense.

      • Jang
        Jang commented
        Editing a comment
        Perhaps not surprising that they’re hard to understand as, as far as I understand, they’ve not stabilised yet?

    • #10
      (Reply moved to comment)
      Last edited by Jang; 27-05-2021, 19:23.

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      • #11
        Originally posted by jayb View Post
        I You could try growing just a couple of sweet corn alongside Fiesta and Bloody butcher and detassel them then you get the corn you want and some crossed seeds to maybe experiment with.

        Sounds promising, hope those seeds are in the freezer.
        I reread your post, Jayb, this morning and realised I couldn't get my head round your suggestion about growing a couple of sweetcorn .....
        Did you mean a couple of varieties or a couple of plants? And sorry to be so slow, but do you mean detassel the BB and Fiesta,or the sweetcorn?

        If I detassel the sweetcorn I'd get crosses on that. If I detassel the others I'd get crosses on them? or am I just. hopelessly confused?

        And the good news was that the lost seeds were in the freezer so now sown.

        Comment


        • #12
          I have three possible areas for growing corn - a rather crowded poly tunnel, so just a few plants of one variety perhaps; a meadow 100 metres from my veg garden, and the veg garden.

          I've planted Swift and lark in the veg garden.

          That leaves Bloody Butcher (dent), Fiesta (flint), Magic Manna (flour) and Hooker's Sweet Indian (Su sweetcorn?), Double Red (Su sweetcorn?).

          Any suggestions for some kind of plan gratefully received - or perhaps I should go for a glorious hands off approach and see what happens.

          Comment


          • jayb
            jayb commented
            Editing a comment
            Lol, you have got your hands full! What are you hoping to do?
            I think a flint and dent corn shouldn't impact each other too much and you will still be able to grind or whatever you have planned.
            I think you would want to distance the su's from the flour, dent and flint as I think this might affect the eating, but saying that Painted mountain is a flour and is nice and sweet picked young and used fresh. Though whether flour pollen would make the su's meally ....

          • jayb
            jayb commented
            Editing a comment
            Do you need to grow them all this year?

        • #13
          Your last question is a very good one! Somehow I couldn’t quite help it, except for Double Red which I grew last year so could bring myself to leave for this year. The others are all sown, so the die is cast.

          Thanks for the reassurance about flint and dent corn. I think I’ll keep the yellow Su’s and the Hooker’s Sweet Indian in the veg garden and most of the rest can go in the meadow. Su and Se should be OK together and make a sweet yellow/ blue corn in any F1s?

          Perhaps timing will be on my side too.

          Thank you for engaging with my confusion. It has helped me to arrive at a bit of a plan!

          Comment


          • jayb
            jayb commented
            Editing a comment
            "Thanks for the reassurance about flint and dent corn." Oh gosh, I think it's right.
            I can't wait to hear your progress and how all your varieties do and taste. I'm just waiting for my Damaun and Zola's to root up enough to plant out.

          • Jang
            Jang commented
            Editing a comment
            I’ve given up worrying! At the moment it’s simply a question of juggling for space. Whatever happens will be instructive and hopefully help towards a more constructive plan for next year.
            But I look forward to taking photos and sharing. Hope to see some of yours too.....
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