Richard mix, grex experiments - Corn

Here are some of my grexes experiments.

I will start with corn. I have done two plantings this year. First planting with a grex, and second planting with the same grex, but with 4 more varieties. I will try a couple generations next year.

The first planting was started through direct seeding with an elevated seed density. It was sowed in a lonely row. It was a variety that had high genetic diversity, like a landrace, it was a local variety. There were several types of stalks, green one, mixed green with red, rainbow stalk, and another one with more red than green. The cobs also got that red tint, some of them got it and other ones got the white cob. Kernels had hard skin. Pollination was low even when some of the stocks were touching each other.

The pros of this variety is that the kernels are hard and the bugs do not eat them, they are resistant to drought, they like to grow with very high density, and the seed was available to purchase at an affordable price, the color is very yellow, kind of orange probably with good nutrients. The weaknesses of this variety are that the corns are open on the top, kernels are hard, bugs are attracted to them, low pollination in general, and small cobs.

I saved seeds from some of the cobs that did not have any bugs and some of the best looking ones even though they did have some bugs. I do not know if the last part was a good idea.

I was thinking of planting in a block to achieve better pollination. So for the second planting, I reduce the seeding density, and I plant five rows. Rows were spaced less than one meter/ three feet. Seeds in the row spaced thirty centimeters / one foot.

I include 4 new varieties. Probably two sweet corn, and two for popcorn. Two packages were bought and two were seed swaps, they contained very few seeds, less than 10.
I was reluctant to mix popcorn with sweetcorn, but with so little diversity and fewer plants, my concern was inbreeding.

The germination was good, I only put one seed in each hole and I think most of them sprouted, 90%+.

The new varieties were not that drought tolerant and were planted later in full dry spell. Most of the new additions grew very short and only produced one cob. Only one plant of the fresh additions did great. Most of them got bug damage, there were worms eating the sweet kernels.

The first harvest was abundant, chicken liked the corn. The second was passable. At least I have seeds for trying next year.

Here is a photo of the second harvest.

I got more varieties of seed prepared for next year. Two seed packets of a local variety and a couple purple kernels from a seed swap.

Some tips for drying the seed?

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I wonder what comes out of those sweetcorn. Graincorn dominates sweetcorn in pollination and so if they are grown close proximity sweetcorn will be crosses. It spoiles the taste of sweetcorn to awful. I think next generation then should all be graincorn, but not sure. Atleast would be good to tell people if you plan to share seeds as it could spoil those that were meant for eating. I have tried to become more careful with them and next year they will be grown in completely different locations.

For drying it’s better to be atleast little warm, sweetcorn little more as they have more sugars. I have used around 30-38C just to make sure they dry fast without problems. It still might take couple days. I don’t know what upper limit might be. My reasoning for that upper temperature is that they might naturally have something like that and there is still little room for error.

Looks like a great start for your own landrace @Richard. What are you aiming for? A polenta type corn? A corn to feed chickens?

I did not know it. But I presupposed that the sweet flavor diminished.

Probably next year I will be too. I was more concerned about inbreeding than crosspollination, and more concerned about pollination in general because I had very few seeds. My seed corn selection is very low and scarce. Only got enough of that grain corn.

You use a dehydrator? or just air dry?

This first year I was just aiming to geed enough corn seed and not fall in inbreeding depression. I like diversity, so flour, popcorn or sweet are on the lookout. But my first goal should be flour corn for sure. Flour in general is one of my goals, I already got a head start on my carob flour and I looking for other grains.

For this experiment I just was aiming to cross my corn that is adapted to my local environment with those few grains that I have of other varieties.

I was planing on cutting the tops of the corn of the local variety and let the other provide the pollen, but the new varieties grow later and very short, so the timings did not work out. I cut some tops of the plants, not all of them, but the planting was too disperse and got low pollination.

If everything goes wrong the chicken can still eat it.

It’s the allele that defines corn sweetness. There are 4 types (atleast main types) of that allele with 3 diffrent “level” for lack of better term. First is what’s in graincorns, 2 equal types in normal sweetcorn and one for extra sweet. If sweeter is pollinated with less sweet that allele overwrites all alleles that are sweeter. So sweetcorn cannot be pollinated with sweetcorn pollen if there is graincorn pollen available. I have no experience on saving seeds from those crosses that I know of, but if I understand it correctly it would make next generation sweetcorn into graincorn. But it has immediate affect on taste of sweetcorn and it’s not like it makes it less sweet, it makes it taste so horrible that you would spit it out.

Yes, I use dehydrator and I have makeshift drier also. Some of the graincorn are fast enough to dry on plant, but those that aren’t and sweetcorn I have used added heat. It’s quite cool indoors for drying (21-22C at the time when I dry) and maybe not ideal humidity. There is a change they would spoil so use those to make sure. If you get higher temperatures it should be fine without. Joseph did advise to dry fast if seeds aren’t fully mature and there seems to be atleast one small in the middle of your picture that seems to more in the eating phase. If they are fully plump at the top and sweetcorn has started to shrivel they should dry fairly easy.

So you need the extra sweet corn to cross with others extra sweet corn to be able to get a landrace going… It is going to be difficult to get a hold to those varieties.

Probably they are still good to make flower right? or kind of…

There are some grains that are not full on the inside. I do not have a dehydrator available for now. But I checked yesterday and the corn seems to dry properly.

Yes, extrasweet is the loneliest so to speak since it needs to be separate from all others and there aren’t too many varieties that are extra sweet to start with. I have no experience how badly it would be spoiled, but since the bad taste is something other than sweetness I would quess it’s similar to sweetcorn being pollinated with graincorn. Personally I think normal sweetcorn is sweet enough. It’s still not like the sweetness is uniform among sweetcorn varieties, but some are less sweet for other reasons. Might be to do with how fast sugars start to be converted to carbonhydrates. So you can still select for sweeter sweetcorn that doesn’t cause trouble within sweetcorn. Just keep sweetcorn and graincorn separate. If you want to have some crossing between those two you would have to have them separate and also see how they diverge separately before you introduce them to main population of that kind. It should be possible to separate them as seeds; graincorn dry round and sweetcorn shrivel. Those seeds you say aren’t full inside are sweetcorn. It’s the sugars that make them dry shriveled.

You mean flour? It has same origin as word flower (and almost same pronuncation) so easy to mix up. Sweetcorn would not make very good flour, but I suppose everything makes some kind of flour. If you mean because of cross pollination between sweetcorn and graincorn, I would not use that sweetcorn for food in any way. Graincorn it’s no problem. Sweetcorn I would be also careful with mixing with others when planting. I’m not quite sure how those alleles are passed on and you wouldn’t want I rougue graincorn among your sweetcorn. Although as I said before, it should show in seed, but I would be careful. But it’s fine to plant them and see what comes.

Adaptive seeds carries a super sweet corn that is open pollinated it’s called Mama I think we guess you do have to still keep it separated from normal sweet corn but you might could use it for mixing with hybrid super sweet corn

Yes, I suppose there are some if you look for them, but not in the numbers like normal sweetcorn. I think extrasweet must be a bit newer invention or find, whatever it could be called. Possibly there is another bottleneck and those would need genetic transfer from other types of corn.

Yes, I meant flour, sorry for the confusion.

That’s ok, I got your meaning. Just had to make sure. When I replied I did start to write flower instead of flour many times. Out of interest I checked what actual pronunciation for the words are and atleast google search gives same pronunciation for both. Also dictionary gives the other as old alternative spelling so it’s very understandable not to remember. I have heard the story behind their origin somewhere. I don’t remember the story anymore other than they have the same origin, which is actually the case with many words.

It happen to me to so many times, so much editing. And also inbread → inbreed

I tried some kernels, some were sweet and some were not sweet.

These are the varieties that I used for planting this past season. I had some spare time and I have taken some photos.

Sweet corn golden bantam:

Sweet corn jubilee:

This packet was a seed swap. I think the original planting was just one stalk, probably inbreed. Pop corn. I miss other pop corn package, probably I used it all.
corn05

This packet was also a seed swap. I think the original planting was three stalks probably inbreed. Sweet corn.

I got hold of two new packages for next season. This two varieties are grown locally, the seed is a bit old, but I will make due.

Indigenous corn, ideal for animal consumption.

Indigenous corn from “Muro”, ideal for animal and human consuption. Intact or flour. Corn kernels are reddish. You can eat the raw cob when is young.

Purple corn from a seed swap. Corn variegata japanese. Rainbow stalks?

Plus this year corn harvest.

Some recommendations for growing all those varieties?

If i want to have flour corn, which type of corn I need to find? Probably the Indigenous corn from “Muro” is my initial choice.

I am in Europe, and due to strict customs regulations, importing is quite difficult.

Richard, when I started to search for seeds of the type of tomatoes you described, I found this company, https://merakiseeds.com/corn, in Greece (but I live in US).
I also bought seed from this company, https://www.etsy.com/shop/ValeyracSeeds?section_id=20392769&order=date_desc&utm_source=boe&utm_medium=android&utm_campaign=59g3ave-SoO4wV3MUiPRQw&utm_content=Corn, thru Etsy, based on Hungary, though it looked like it was sent from Germany.

I do not know the reputation of the the first company. I was satisfied with the seed I got from the one on Etsy.

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As I general term I use graincorn for other than sweetcorn and extra sweets. I’m not sure how to divide graincorn like flourcorn and popcorn for example if there isn’t mention in package and I don’t know how different types would affect flour quality. As long as it’s graincorn it’s not a huge mistake. Sweetcorns are the ones that are more sensitive. Last picture is good example how graincorn looks like same as 3rd picture. Your harvest picture is about half and half graincorn/sweetcorn, but it’s hard to say if some kernels are results of crosspollination from this picture. You would have to wait until they dry and then there is a change to pick those out, but I’m not 100% confident. How many there could be depends on set up and luck. When I have had it happen I had them 5-10m apart and there were few cobs out of several dozen that clearly had some out of those that I ate, but I haven’t seen signs on those that I saved for seed. I did have makeshift protection for seeds to save that one year it happened. After that I only grew fast variety that had stalks before sweetcorn and cut those once sweetcorn had silks. If you didn’t have that many plants and they were spaced out both in distance and in production time the changes of mixing might not be that big, but it still might be better to check sweetcorn kernels once they dry and grow separately just to be save.

Yes, that is when referring to the developement stage. Graincorn isn’t as sweet in my opinion even at that stage. I don’t know if it’s because it never has that much sugars or if it’s because conversion is so fast that you will have different stages of (and so sweetness) kernels in one cob. Describing “sweetcorn phase” is hard as it’s just immature form in both cases. In sweetcorn it’s easily seen as final form which makes it easily misunderstood when said to pick graincorn as sweetcorn. Many wouldn’t know the need for accurate timing. Definetely not the easiest plants to get your head around.

My dad’s family and some of their neighbors would pick a few ears from the grain corn field to eat as corn on the cob. The texture is quite nice in that narrow window of maturity, and the flavor is “corny” but not really sweet (but a fine vehicle for butter). My personal favorite are the old-style (not sugar enhanced or super sweet genetics), which I find have some depth of corn flavor and not just one-dimensionally “sweet”.

Yes, I do like them as well. Taste reminds of barley when used as whole with savory dishes, just little more noticable skin. It’s just so hard to pick at right time and always growing sweetcorn so no need to use them like that.

Thanks I will look into it.