Author Topic: Selecting orange endosperm flint corn.  (Read 486 times)

Mike Jennings

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Selecting orange endosperm flint corn.
« on: 2019-01-06, 03:31:56 PM »
Last summer I did a small trial of several orange flint corns. I planted small patches of Oxbow Farm Orange Flint, Lofthouse High Carotene Flint, Zdrowie, Marano, Piamonte, and Cargill N.T.Z. Cateto Sulino. I let them all cross freely, and planted the earlier Lofthouse and Oxbow varieties 2 week later to synchronize flowering.

The Cargill Cateto (generously shared with me by Oxbow Farm) turned out to be the orangest and the flintiest. Oddly enough, though, the seed I harvested of this variety ended up more orange than the seed I planted.

The original seed is on the left, what I harvested is on the right. Any ideas why this happened? I'm guessing there must be some environmental influence on the expression of carotenes in corn.

I found this Crop Science paper which discusses several genes associated with increased carotene levels. It also seems to suggest only minimal environmental influence on the expression of carotenes. But, the content of this paper is a little beyond my ability to comprehend. Anyone with actual experience selecting for high carotene have any insight?

Currently, my plan for next year is to do a seed increase on the Cargill Cateto, since it works pretty well for my long-season climate in CA. Also, there don't seem to be any commercial sources for this. I may be able to request it from the USDA, but not right at this moment with the government shut down.
« Last Edit: 2019-01-06, 03:51:30 PM by Mike Jennings »

William S.

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Re: Selecting orange endosperm flint corn.
« Reply #1 on: 2019-01-06, 04:51:25 PM »
One other thought, color might get lighter over time in storage. I've noticed year to year differences in color with my purple wheat from Eli Rugosa's heirloom grain conservancy and also perhaps some storage change.
« Last Edit: 2019-01-06, 08:18:43 PM by William S. »
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A

Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: Selecting orange endosperm flint corn.
« Reply #2 on: 2019-01-06, 07:42:53 PM »
I have noticed that if corn cobs are exposed to sunlight while drying, that the color of the seed can intensify dramatically compared to shade dried corn.

Oxbow Farm

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Re: Selecting orange endosperm flint corn.
« Reply #3 on: 2019-04-08, 05:40:48 AM »
Hey Mike,

That Cateto seed was originally give to me by Josh Gochenour and was quite a few years old by the time it got to you, so I think it was faded a bit.  Definitely carotenoid pigments fade/degrade over time, so that has something to do with it I think.

Back when Josh and I were regularly speaking about corn, he told me that a lot of the high carotene selections in the USDA would look fairly pale if you received them, but they would express very high carotene when you grow them out.  He felt it was just long storage fading the seed, and possibly the growing conditions at the PI station not being ideal for carotene expression?  I know that seed sometimes sits around for many years between grow-outs.


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Re: Selecting orange endosperm flint corn.
« Reply #4 on: 2019-04-08, 06:42:24 AM »
We grew Zdrowie for the first time last year (source was Sand Hill Seeds) and the plants got 11.5' tall here in SE Minnesota. What did your Zdrowie plants look like? Somewhere I read that only the South American corns have truly high levels of beta carotene and that the North American flints are just yellow in comparison to their orange. Any experience/knowledge of that? We got the Zdrowie because I thought it had the popcorn genetics bred into it to help it keep from crossing with the GMO corn all around, but have since learned that Dr. Kutka hadn't completed that project. We love the flavor of the corn but it's a bit longer season than the Cascade Ruby Gold we used to grow and am worried that it will pollinate most years when the GMO corn is flowering. Last year we got our corn in a couple of weeks earlier than the farmers who couldn't get their big equipment into wet fields, which weren't a problem for our hand-dug beds. Who knows what this year will throw at us?