... growing and hybridizing all kinds of plants in zone 6b Maryland since the 1980's.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Colorful Sweet Corn

A dozen ears raw and cooked. At the perfect eating stage, most of the kernel colors aren't showing much, but the red pericarp trait seems to be an exception to that rule. This line of corn is derived from one dark red/purple ear I found years ago at a farmer's market - it was in a bin of "Indian Corn" intended for decoration. There were about a dozen shriveled kernels scattered amongst the normal kernels of this cob, so I figured that it had to have come from a plant carrying the sweet corn (sugary/"Su") gene. Sure enough, the about half of the normal kernels when planted produced ears that had 50% shriveled kernels (if pollinated by traditional sweet corns). The varieties I used for these crosses were 'Golden Bantam' and 'Incredible'. The mongrel population that resulted from all of the shrivled kernels has been subjected to drought, heavy earworm infestation and extreme crowding for 3 or 4 years now. Last year I also started to incorporate some new varieties into the gene pool. I used pollen from these colorful sweets on 'Piamonte' (a South American orange flint corn), 'Japonica Striped' flint corn and 'Strawberry Popcorn'. I've got the F1 from these crosses planted out in the garden this year. They've been detassled and backcross pollinated by the colorful sweets. I'm shooting for a mix of red pericarp and normal ears on a deep orange-yellow background (hence the 'Piamonte' orange flint). I'd also like as much earworm resistance as possible - hoping 'Strawberry Popcorn' brings some high silk maysin content for that.

These ears came from the "colorful sweet" pollinator row. I'll take pictures of the new outcross lines when they mature and dry down. They should have 50:50 shriveled and normal kernels.

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