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Medium term corn growing

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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.
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