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Topics - reed

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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.









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