Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - reed

Pages: [1]
Plant Breeding / Dahlias and other edible flowers
« on: 2019-04-04, 07:06:06 AM »
I grew some of Joseph's dahlias a couple years ago and was very impressed with the size of the roots they made. What I didn't especially like is the size of the plants. They were at least four feet, some even taller and quite bushy, took up a whole lot of space in my little garden and for the whole season, they were still blooming when frost hit. All the bees and other critters loved the flowers.

I didn't grow any last year but the woman had a dwarfish dahlia in one of her big flower pots and I kept an eye on it, it only got  a couple feet tall at the most and didn't have any issues with side stems breaking or the whole plant lodging like some of the bigger ones did. I was surprised to see it also made decent sized roots, not as big as Joseph's but plenty big enough to be usable. It was a fancy one with single yellow flowers and purple foliage. I didn't save any of its seeds or roots cause it had a patent or PVP and I didn't what to mess with it.

This winter I noticed Baker Creek had a collection of short single flower dahlias they said are edible so I bought a pack. Then another seed company sent me a free gift which turned out to be another pack of a similar, maybe the same as Baker Creek's. The free one actually had a lot more seeds. So the are all single flowers which is my preference and I'm going to grow them all together and then save seeds primarily form those with shorter plants. Hopefully I can arrive at a happy mix up of shorter plants with single flowers and roots big enough even though they aren't as big as they might be with bigger plants.

A couple other flowers I want to learn more about about as far as food value are hostas and daylilies. We have a lot of both of these and we have started experimenting with eating them. The are not all the same as far as flavor but the hostas easily volunteer from seed and the daylilies don't volunteer but they do make seeds and they are not hard to start, although slow to take off. Anyway both of these along with the dahlias are getting added to my breeding projects and supper menu. The hostas and lilies, being hardy self increasing perennials are especially interesting for a lazy gardener such as myself. Finding reliably hardy dahlias would be a great bonus and I have had in the past had some occasionally overwinter so I think it might be possible.

Does anyone have experience or advice on breeding and cooking these plants?

Plant Breeding / Wild Onions & Breeding with them
« on: 2019-03-14, 08:11:15 AM »
Last summer I found some wild plant that I can't really say for sure if it is onion or garlic but I think it's onion. We have a lot of wild onions and I'v tried cultivation before in effort to get flowers and maybe cross with larger bulb types but without success.

This plant however along with lots of bulbils had seeds. I'v been looking around and found this website which has a picture of just what they looked like when I found them except the seeds were already mature so I don't know what the flowers looked like and the ones I found had many more bulbils. Also on this same web site it says, concerning transplanting.   
The plant bulb can be fairly deep, so you will need to go about 25 cm or 10 inches deep.
and that also matches exactly with what I found. The site identifies this plant as Allium canadense. Is anyone familiar with this plant? Might I be able to cross it with my walking onions or potato onions to make a larger better flavored strain that can just grow mostly on its own?

When I search images of Allium canadense I find wild variation in the resulting images and conflicting identification on whether it is onions or garlic.   I'm sticking with onion, it is very mild flavor but more like onion too me.

Plant Breeding / Quality Ornamental / Food Crops
« on: 2019-03-09, 04:27:24 AM »
I would like to try to make a little money on my gardening but I already tried the farm market route and it doesn't work well for me at least for produce. My garden is to small to produce a lot of any one thing and my stuff isn't uniform enough, the distance to our markets is too far, there is too much competition with people who buy at the Amish auction and pretend to be farmers. It's a lot of trouble for example to grow a tomato or a watermelon haul it somewhere and try to sell it in the two or three day window before it goes bad so I gave it up in favor of selling things like bedding plants, trees I start from seed or grape and berry plants.

I have always been interested in the fall ornamental market, around here that is by far the most profitable. People will pay much higher dollar for decorations than food but I didn't want to grow just decorations. Now I realize it is easy enough to have the best of both the food and decoration worlds.

I'm developing two or maybe three varieties of corn that I intend to be prime quality for food and highly decorative at the same time and unlike sweet corn they don't have to be sold in a short time window and should sell for a dollar an ear instead of three dollars a dozen. I'v recently became aware that  ornamental squash can also be high quality food where I used to think ornamental squash wasn't eatable, most probably isn't but mine will be. People won't have to know unless they ask that  their expensive decorations can also be delicious for supper, a real case of what they don't know won't hurt em. So, I'm starting or rather scaling up two squash projects.

Then I can add some things to my spring plants. Runner beans come to mind. Since I discovered they transplant pretty easy I think can start and sell plants. And dahlias, Lots of people love dahlias and I was shocked at how well those I got from Joseph a couple years ago did. Super easy to sprout and transplant, they grew into big plants that bloomed all season long. They also made lots big tubers the size of baking potatoes, I only sampled some raw, kinda like a peppery water chestnut. I left them in the ground to test for hardiness and they didn't make it but I got lots of seeds. I didn't grow them last year but they are another easy to grow and probably easy to sell as bedding plants crop so I'm adding them to my list.

Last but not least is my sweet potatoes. I have some previously unmentioned super blooming varieties (not currently for sale or trade) that I think might do well on the ornamental market. This project is farther from market than the other projects cause of the need to be able to do mass cloning in a green house, which I don't have.

So there is corn, squash, runner beans, dahlias, and sweet potatoes, good food that can be sold for pricey decorations.  I bet there are others that I'm not thinking of yet, any suggestions?

Plant Breeding / Lima Beans
« on: 2019-03-08, 06:33:02 AM »
Is anyone else working with Lima Beans? I have a population I call Survivor Limas that I have been growing similar to my Survivor Pole Beans but Lima Beans overall are not especially productive for me. The most productive and reliable one has small dark red seeds and we are not especially fond of its flavor but last year I found a couple white or mostly white seeded ones that produced pretty good. Now, of course they are all mixed up but I figure I'll just keep planting the white or mostly white ones. Also in my mix already are yellow, gold, tan, light green and pink with various spots and mottling.  Pretty much all of them are better flavor than the dark red but none as productive. 

Unlike my survivor common beans I have been providing trellis for the Limas because they are all such huge vines. That's one thing I want to change if I can so this year I have several  new to me, bush types which I will grow along side the pole types. Does anyone know if there  are shorter pole types such as I have found with common beans  or if crossing the two might result in some? I'v found lots of info on Lima Bean breeding but none that addresses this issue.

Plant Breeding / Common Pole beans for the Ohio River Valley
« on: 2019-02-12, 04:23:30 AM »
I'm working developing/selecting pole beans that better suit my tastes and have a few different ones in progress. I usually grow some bush beans as well, for early green beans but bush beans are a real problem in the Ohio Valley when it comes to using as dry beans or even saving seeds because the weather here is very friendly to various mold and fungal diseases, add in the usual storm that comes along and blows the vines over and splashes a lot of soil around and by season end you generally end up with more dirt and disease than dry beans. 

Because of that and also that I like the more indeterminate production of pole beans better anyway I moved over to mostly pole beans several years ago. I also like not having to stoop over to harvest. I always grew some pole beans anyway, being particularly fond of Ky Wonder,  NT 1/2 Runner and Greasy Beans, each of which has distinctive flavor as green beans and also good as dry beans.

Even pole beans however very often, depending on weather, have ugly splotches on the dry pods from I guess, some of the same diseases that bother the bush beans. Over the years, even before I knew that I was a plant breeder I tended when I had that option, to save my seeds from those pods that had less of that. In recent years I have trialed and added a lot of new kinds of pole beans and I notice that plants from my own seeds of my old stand by's have considerably less of the diseased looking pods. I call it "clean pod" trait. So that is the first and most advanced of my bean projects.  It's really just a common sense selection project and it has worked pretty well so I'll keep it up with all the new beans too.

I'v also found that common beans cross much often than most literature indicates, with off-types showing up pretty regularly.  I have the one that I'm working to stabilize into what I'll call Hoosier Wonder or Reed's Hoosier Wonder but mostly they just get added into my second longest running project of what I call my "Survivor Beans". They are the ones that get planted and neglected to see if they can produce that way and some do. I figure if they make a few seeds under total neglect then they should produce pretty good with just a little cultivation.   I have just been saving those seeds all mixed up.

My newest goal is to find or breed some that don't grow quite so big. I think 4 to 6 feet tall would be ideal but even when I'v bought varieties because the description said they are shorter vines they still get bigger than my trellises which are generally 8 - 10 feet. Last two or three years though I did find some that really do only get about 5 feet tall. A friend from the HG forum had a collection of short vine snap beans that did real well and I found a collector in Illinois that has hundreds of varieties so now I have around 15 kinds that grow in that range ans some of them are very good producers and fine flavor. One variety called Refugee is particularly nice. It is supposedly one of, if not the first kind that was used when commercial canning started. 

I haven't had much luck in finding info on the inheritance of vine type in bean crosses but I'm hopeful I might get some new ones by planting a few bush plants side my pole bean mix, I'm gonna try that this year.

Plant Breeding / Tomatoes for the Central Ohio Valley
« on: 2019-01-19, 05:41:57 AM »
I'v never tried to hand pollinate to tomatoes before but because of the need to get some better disease resistance into the mix I'm gonna give it a go this year. I'm not going to do meticulous record keeping nor really commit to an ongoing project of back crossing and the like. I'm more interested in just doing a landrace style project and  just select for good segregates that show up future generations, assuming of course I am able to successfully make the initial crosses.

I'll start with some I already have that although they don't survive till end of season they still make an early crop sufficient to fill our canning jars, which is our primary goal although we certainly do enjoy fresh tomatoes too. These include:
Utah Heart - an extremely good juice and sauce tomato, from an "early all kinds" mix from Joseph Lofthouse.
Hoosier Rose I and II - Large slicing tomatoes that vary a little, one has more green shoulders and seems a little more disease resistant, they are F 4 or so from a commercial  F1 called Red Rose (Brandywine x Rutgers)
Particularly Productive Rutgers -  A more productive and more determinate form that showed up in my Rutgers patch a few years ago. 
Mr. Stripey - A large red and yellow beefsteak type heirloom that is more disease resistant then most. It is often confused with Tigerella a terrible tasting variety in my opinion. I wasn't sure which was truly which but am going with the Cornell University description...
Open pollinated. Main season standard beefsteak type. Indeterminate plants produce fruit that is up to 2 pound, golden yellow with reddish-pink vertical stripes. Disease resistant variety. Resistance to late blight. About 80 days to maturity. Not to be confused with bicolor 'Tigerella'
...especially since it is consistent with my experience.

I'll also be including my own diverse population from a pimpinellifolium cross that showed up a few years ago. These are the most blight resistant tomatoes I have and pretty much the only ones that still produce up to frost but they are prone to other foliage diseases to varying degrees. This year I will plant several of them and select for the less diseased ones to cross with the others. I might have to wait a while in the season to see which are most resistant, I'm also hopeful that the ones with larger fruits might be the most resistant. If I could get a ping pong ball sized fruit from a more resistant pimp cross that I'm confident was pollinated by Mr. Stripey, that would be a treasure.

I may get some Iron Lady and some Skykomish for added LB resistance but LB is far from the only disease issue I have so not sure how that will work out.

I'll also use two more commercial hybrids I already have, both as the original purchased F1 and my own F3 or 4. Plum Regal and Mountain Merit. They both have at least some LB resistance but also just as importantly to me are reported to have considerable resistance to other diseases. Mountain Merit is productive and blends good in juice and Plum Regal seems to be easy to sun dry and I'm interested in learning to do that. They are neither one the best flavored tomatoes I'v ever tasted but they are not terrible, certainly better than store bought.

I'm just going to try to make lots of different crosses between all these various ones and then see what happens when I grow out the F1s.  I'll keep good track in the first year of F1 parents. Any good things that show up in F1 will be either dehybridized or maybe crossed some more, will see how it shakes out but I think some good things could show up and at very least I'll have good supply of seeds for future season that at least have some chance of having both good fruits and disease resistance. 

I'm taking a more "nature finds a way" over a more scientifically grounded approach not because I think the second is flawed but because I know I don't have the discipline to pull it off.   

Plant Breeding / Increasing and Improving Wild Grape Diversity
« on: 2019-01-15, 08:45:22 AM »
The notion of making new varieties of grapes that can just be turned loose in the neighborhood is one of my most favorite breeding projects but also the least successful so far. Maybe the biggest reason for the failure is it has mostly just been a daydream that generally pops up while out picking wild grapes for jelly but I have made some first step progress by acquiring about a dozen kinds of wine and table varieties, all ones that grow on their own roots. I have little interest in grafting so I think own root vines are best for trying my crosses. Also I think it probably means they all have wild American ancestors so they are already related.

My neighborhood wild grapes come in quite a variety and I'v planted seeds from my favorite ones here and there around the yard. My absolute favorite and most productive vine was already here, growing in some big cedar trees in what became the yard when I built the house. Recently a limb form a dead Ash tree fell and bent one the cedars over, yea! Cause in doing so it brought lots more of my grapes into easy reach.

All my purchased vines are up to production size now and I'v learned how to successfully clone them and I have managed to sprout a few seeds. I sell some of my clones at a swap meet and plant some along the road and in the woods near where wild grapes are growing. My brilliant scheme that they would just cross and the offspring would go wild wasn't so brilliant after all because the commercial vines and the wild ones don't coincide in bloom.

I'm gonna have to get more personally involved to get my crosses but I found this great article from Cornell that tells me how to go about it. I didn't even know till I read it that some or many of the wild grapes are likely not hermaphrodites.  That might actually work wonderfully in my favor.

My favorite vine I mentioned is hugely productive so it is certainly female or has perfect flowers.  I'll find out next year but if by chance it is female that would be perfect cause it blooms after the commercial clones. And from reading that same paper it sounds like it isn't that hard to collect and preserve pollen, certainly just for the few weeks I'll need to do so. If my favorite does have perfect flowers it also sound like emasculating them isn't as hard as I thought it would be. And if offspring from the crosses come out male and female I can also plant the males to carry genes for larger fruit into the wild population that way.

Like I said we already have a variety of wild grapes, they produce well, and they resist about all diseases the tame ones get but they are small, sometimes more seed than grape and most don't taste all that good. 

All I really want is to make a population of wild grapes that make larger fruits. Red, and white ones would be really cool too as all the wild ones are black. If it works I plan to scatter them everywhere in my neighborhood so years from now people or just critters for all I care, have something good to munch or get drunk on.


Many people familiar with the HG forum are already familiar with this project so rather than start all over I thought I would just give a run down of how it stands now. My eventual goal is to release and sell true seed producing sweet potatoes as breeding material under the OSSI pledge. I just need to produce sufficient quantities, develop a good naming convention for the different lines and find out, in the event I want to release some as clones, what legal hoops I'll need to jump through to send them through the mail.

Anyway, five years after discovering my first true sweet potato seed  I have a total of 8 of my own seed grown clones that meet my criteria of short season production (100 days or less) of both food quality roots and seeds. I recently became aware that there is also more interest in lines developed more for greens over roots than I realized. That might greatly increase those I keep as clones. Up till now I have been mostly discarding those that only produce foliage, even if they did make seeds.

As it stands now along with those 8 seedy clones and a few other, non-rooting ones and after finding a pack I had forgotten about I have approximately 2500 seeds. Half or more of those are buried deep in the ground in well sealed stainless steel canisters.

I'm interested also in developing lines that are easy to grow and tolerant of poor conditions or neglect so I take no special actions to insure germination. I start them in cool conditions on a drafty window sill on a cheap heat and without any artificial lighting. Germination in successive generations under these conditions has increased from about 5% within a week to about 20%. Germination in an outside cold frame of just a few seeds in that time was 2%. Germination by folks I'v shared seeds with using much more controlled conditions was reported much higher, in the neighborhood of 90%.

My friend Richard in New Zealand had germination of 20% or higher, I think using a technique similar to mine and some of his plants are currently blooming. The climate there is not especially friendly to sweet potatoes so I'm watching his reports closely and keeping fingers crossed he gets good roots and seeds.

I hope in 2019 to get reports from New York and Germany. Other locations where they have been trialed include;

Sweden - no real report on germination or success
North Carolina - poor germination using techniques similar to mine, good root production on those that did grow, no seeds. No seeds was due to poor observation and repeated destruction of the vines by rabbits and deer. (*interesting, you can still get a harvest even if vines are seriously damaged)

Minnesota - no report, I think he may not have planted them yet.

Texas - excellent germination direct seeding in mid May, excellent root production, few seeds. I don't know a reason for the poor seed production there.

California - excellent germination, excellent seed production but most with poor stringy roots. I imagine by selection, crossing to new varieties and mutation the stringy root problem can soon be solved. 

Utah, Ah, Ha, this is the most exciting. This farmer and you know who you are Joseph Lofthouse did cheat some by tightly controlling germination conditions and got very good results. Still in a high desert with cold nights and a frost free season of less than 100 days managing to harvest food sized roots AND seeds FROM seed is pretty exciting.

I'm thinking for this year I will focus on continuing to push the extreme of germination under poor conditions (for sweet potatoes) even farther and plant about 500 seeds in the unheated cold frame. Select from them the first 20 or so that sprout and discard the rest. I'll also maybe keep some of the later sprouting volunteers which I expect because of my poor seed collection practice last year. I may not start any inside this year.

I'm also going to grow more individual plants of my saved clones instead of just one or two to increase the number of harvested roots from them. Those 8 all make good roots and seeds so I hope to cross them with several new commercial clones I'll get from Sandhill Preservation and elsewhere.

I want to up my seed production to 5000 this year. It's an ambitious goal not because it will be that hard to get the plants to do it, just have to have enough of them. It's ambitious because they are not exactly what you could call determinate. They just keep making seeds, you can't just harvest them all at once like you might with dry beans, there are only at most 4 in each capsule instead of hundreds like in a tomato. You have to spend an hour or more every single day looking for and collecting the seeds and there is a narrow window before they shatter. O'well, somebody's gotta do it I reckon.

Plant Breeding / Directing Crossing by Bumblebees
« on: 2018-12-30, 08:52:32 AM »
For past several years I'v made a point to closely observe the pollinators in my garden and Bumblebees stand out as one, if not the most important. Their behavior is interesting. I'v noticed they are very methodical in their methods. They move from one flower to the nearest adjacent rather than flying around at random like some things do. Makes sense, not to waste time and energy. I also notice they some how know when a flower has already been visited by themselves or another bumblebee, they may give it a close fly by but they don't land on the same one again. I wonder if they leave some chemical tag that the flower is used already.  If there is some other critter on a flower they may aggressively bump into it and scare it off or they may just go to the next flower.

I have a theory that I can use their behavior to make controlled crosses.  For example I think by planting a single plant of a bean I want crossed among many plants of the selected father I can greatly increase the % of crossed seeds on the mother plant. I also theorize that by watching closely, arranging the blooms to be within an inch of each other and removing all but one bloom per stem of the mother I can increase it even more. Of course there will still be self pollination going on as well but I bet growing a pod or two worth of seeds would show some to be crossed. 

Same process would work for many other things, limit # of flowers on a mother plant, arrange those you leave to immediately beside those of the father plants. Not as exact but much less tedious than actually dissecting a flower and hand pollinating. If my theory is correct then all else that's needed is to grow the seeds and find the crosses.

Plant Breeding / Forcing Blooms / Turning Biennials into annuals
« on: 2018-12-29, 08:25:57 AM »
I'm interested in the notion of creating annual vegetables from biennials as it relates to brassica such as cabbage or Brussels sprouts. I'm not even opposed to it for carrots. I know the reasoning of higher production, better quality and so on for growing  biennial but that doesn't work for me if I can't get seeds and I can't for those things I mentioned. They just don't make it through winter to bloom the next year.

I think the reason a lot of things are not hardy here when they are in colder places is those places get cold and stay that way, maybe even with a long term blanket of snow, stuff just goes to sleep and wake up later. We have long periods of above freezing punctuated with short periods below zero F and rarely any snow, very little survives it. 

For carrots I think it might be fairly easy because I have had some carrots bolt the first year so all I got to do is find and save more that do that. If all I get is small roots, I can live with that because getting biennial seed just isn't working for me.

But the brassicas is my primary interest. Broccoli is annual for me easy enough, but the others only infrequently live to make seed the next year.  At least a little kale usually overwinters but that is the only one that does, collards keep going well into winter but croak before spring.

I want to mix, as many of these plants as I can into an an annual crop with strong cold tolerance so I can grow it spring and fall for the leaves, stalks, flower clusters and seed pods. I hope to use broccoli to help bring in the annual blooming and kale for some extra cold tolerance but I have failed so far in getting crosses between those things.

I'm wondering if I start some things like savoy cabbage, Brussels sprouts and the like right now inside and put them in the cold frame to freeze a little till spring, closing it up on very cold nights if I might be able to force some blooms next year.  I already moved some kale and collards, although the collards don't look too good into a bed I can cover when needed. I think if I could just get one good mass cross I might be on my way. 

OSSI pledged varieties / Adding to the OSSI List
« on: 2018-12-18, 08:02:37 AM »
I'm just wondering if there might be ways to get new things added to the OSSI list without the one doing the pledging, growing or selling the seeds themselves.

For example I have a great new bean, it's a cross between KY Wonder and (most likely) Ideal Market. It's, I think four years since the initial cross and not 100% stable but getting there. Could I name it say, Reed's Hoosier Wonder and pledge it anyway. Then sell, trade or give it to someone who would increase and sell it. How about my Reed's Tasty Pod Radish grex, till your dirt and spice up your salads in one easy step. Just wondering.

Plant Breeding / Commercial vs Home Garden Breeding
« on: 2018-11-19, 04:17:54 AM »
A couple posts about lettuce got me thinking about how I grow it. Seems like most emphasis on breeding is on little short tight plants.

I don't want short lettuce, especially if it makes tight layers of leaves. I can see the attraction of it for commercial use as it looks pretty and can be sold in a nice looking package but in my garden it is always splashed with dirt by rain and often there are little slugs hiding between the leaves. Plus in my garden, very little ever grows or looks or tastes like it's described.

I know it's flavor deteriorates as weather gets warmer and it starts to bolt but since it as easy as can be to get seed I just started letting it do what it wants and selecting for any that keeps a nice flavor on a bigger plant. I plant any I get my hands on and just let some go to seed. I keep harvesting side leaves as it grows and pull out any that get terribly bitter.

I get a couple generations per season and it only took about three seasons to arrive at two kinds I really like. One is dark red and a little crinkled the other smoother and light green. When they get three or more feet tall the side leaves can be a foot long and four or five inches wide. Especially the red one still tastes fine at that stage although they both start getting kind of tough. I doubt they would be much good commercially cause you have to harvest individual leaves but for my use they are perfect. Fresh picked leaves are not splashed with mud and there are no slugs.

Anyway, I think that is the difference between commercial and home breeding. A commercial grower or breeder has to be concerned with marketing and what the customer likes. A home garden breeder only has to be concerned with what does well in their garden and kitchen. A home garden breeder is not bound by the rules or expectations that apply to commercial production. Took me a good while to figure that out but now me and my garden are free at last.

(ADD) - Another example of breeding specifically for my garden and preferences is how I do my radishes. Again, I just plant any I get a hold of but I don't eat radish roots. I consider that a terrible waste. I love, and now that they've tried it others here also love radish flower buds, young shoots and leaves and especially young tender seed pods. Selection, if I do it, is for mild flavored tender seed pods and big roots. I'm perfectly fine if the roots are tough, stringy or hollow because their job, which they are quite good at is loosening up and enriching my hard clay soil.  Masses of radish flowers are also quite beautiful and very highly regarded by a wide range of pollinators. My late summer and fall volunteers right now in mid November, are blooming and when a hard freeze hits they will fall down and seal the soil with a nice mulch that prevents erosion. Next spring I can just rake off the residue and plant.

I have had less success so far but am working on a Brassica Oleracea mix that I can use similarly. Where the part we eat is any part that tastes good and the rest can rot where it is. Leaves, shoots, seed pods, I don't care about nice broccoli heads, big round cabbages or bunches of little brussels sprouts. I don't what a huge single harvest that has to be eaten right away or stored. Just a nice flavorful and nutritious plant that is as cold tolerant as possible so we can harvest fresh greens to eat most if not all the winter.

So again, lots of great stuff is possible for the home garden breeder, once the restraints of traditional use and practice are cast aside.


Lots of work has and is being done in corn breeding but seems like very little of it is taking place around my area. I want a fast maturing flour corn, for cornbread, hominy and other culinary uses but also a nice ornamental so I can sell it high dollar for decorations.

I like Dave Christensen's Painted Mountain and Carol Deppe's Magic Manna even more, they both largely fit the bill on what I want. Problem is, they don't seem to like Indiana. I think the issue is likely related to heat units, they just get their required GDD too fast resulting in flowering in as little as 40 days, I'm OK with that in itself but they can also do it at only 1 1/2 to 3 feet tall. Ears are way down by the ground and generally don't form well. Worse, especially with PM is the ears can way overshoot the husks leading to all kinds of bug and molding problems.

Eastern American flour corns that I knew of till recently, primarily Cherokee White Flour are way too big and way, way too long season for my liking. Long season especially, is an issue for a number of reasons far from the least of which is fall army worms that arrive in abundance in late summer. They degrade the food quality of course and they destroy the ornamental value.

My goals
*short enough maturity I can grow two generations in one season
*strong resistance to lodging
*tolerant of drought
*widely variable  pericarp color, white endosperm, colorless aleurone  - so I have single colored
  ears like Magic Manna
*resistance to fall army worms so my late crop isn't damaged
*good tight tip cover to resist other bug and mold problems
*8 to 12 rows of large kernels on long slender cobs
*colorful stalks, silks tassels

That's not too much to ask is it? No it isn't, cause I already have some excellent building blocks.

Zapalote Chico, a Mexican Landrace variety from GRIN likes Indiana just fine. It resists lodging as well or better and recovers from it faster than most other corns I'v grown. It has gorgeous purple stalks and shucks and all white kernels on red cobs. It contains a compound in it's silks that kills army worms and I have confirmed that in my own garden. it grows  6-7 feet tall and holds its ears 3 or more feet off the ground.

What I call Oxbow White Flour is an Eastern American Grex I got from a forum member. It is slightly later flowering than Zap Chico but not so much as to seriously hinder crossing and I have already done so this past season. It has much longer thinner ears than Zap Chico but even so has great tip cover. A little less resistant to lodging probably because of greater height but nothing I can't work around.  A bonus is in my patch past season I found a nice bronze colored ear and a nice red one.  I dissected several kernels from each and found no color other than peircarp so my introduction of colored pericarp is already on it's way.

Even though  the two i mentioned above are fast maturing, fast enough for two generations per season the PM and MM I planted with intent to detassel flowered way too soon. I did get a couple small ears from them pollinated by ZC and OWF and will try to  detassel and cross them again next year, taking little but pericarp color into the next generation. And I learned I need to plant MM about two weeks after the ZC and OWF to facilitate simultaneous flowering.

So my first crop next year will be planted around first of May. I'll try to cross ZC and OWF onto MM, picking up the varied pericarp. Then in my the second crop I'll cross that back the other direction making a mix of seeds that are 3/4 ZC or OWF and 1/4 MM. In the first patch ZC and OWF will both be tasseling so there will already some more mixing there as well.

The next season, I'll get in the freezer and pull out my small reserve of pure ZC and OWF and cross all that mess back on to them. From then on it's just selecting for the things on my wish list.

O' and I might throw a little zea diploperennis in there from time to time just to keep it interesting.

Pages: [1]