Indian Corn Door Decoration

Pulsegleaner

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Jackpot today. The stand with the wacky corn came through with a mini ear with SWEET kernel contamination! (only the third mini one I've ever found) Some other decent odds and ends, like a nice velvet skin mini. I wonder if that means by the end of the year a greasy ear or two will show up (greasy corn ears are ones were the kernels are SO smooth that they actually become difficult to pick up once shelled; they'll literally slip out from between your fingers.)
 

Chickie'sMomaInNH

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was at the grocery store this afternoon & happened to see some Indian corn in the produce area. took a look & found interesting ears in the bin. one i could have sworn could have passed for Glass Gem with the blues/grays/greens. saw a couple that were striped & i know those are supposed to have some meaning, thought it meant good luck the next year.

@Pulsegleaner what do some of these milky looking kernels look like when you seen them on the ears? do you have any pics?
 

Pulsegleaner

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Of an intact cob not; I already broke the ones I got apart and sorted out the kernels I wanted (with so much corn, I really don't have room to store whole ears, plus if I only want one or two kernels on them, there really seems no point. I'll try and remember when I get the next batch (bearing in mined the opaque stuff has been in short supply this year, at all sizes). In general they will just look more opaque than the ones around them. It's most noticable in white or yellow kernels since the light penetrates the deepest on them. A pure flinty (all hard starch) kernel will be sort of see through, and the white will actually have a sort of yellowish/tannish case (look at any white kernel on any ear you have and you'll see what I mean. A soft starch one will be opaque and a lot whiter (a chalk/china white) Similarly a yellow will go from a transparent gold to a opaque duckling. But a lot of the ones that look opaque are not in fact all flour. Given the mix of genes what you often get are "cap" corns; corns with a soft starch cap on a hard starch base (sort of a dent without the dent). Most corns have a little cap (on a flatter topped kernel you can often see an opaque circle in the middle of the top) but these have ones that cover the whole top (if the soft bit reaches the surface, it shrinks more than the hard does at drying an depresses in, giving you the dent.)

The "cloudy" stuff I have been mentioning looks sort of just like that, like there are clouds stuck in it. At the other end (like some of the ones I found) they fill up nearly the whole kernel and you get something that looks like an opaque kernel with grease spots or two little transparent pillars on the side.

On a kernel by kernel basis the quickest way to tell is to put the kernel on a light source (like a flashlight lens) Hard starch will let light through, soft starch wont (doesn't always work for really dark purple corns.)

It might easily have BEEN Glass Gem, ever since it came on the market it's been really popular.

If you mean kernels with stripes, that's actually called "chinmarking" (it apparently resembles the chin tattoos some Native American tribes wore.) It's usually red, but I have seen brown.

What I am usually after in corn is something called "stippling" with gives a kernel with small polka dots all over it (the corn in my avatar picture is stippled). A blurry kind of stippling (what I call "moss stippling") is reasonably common, but sharp spots are pretty rare in the general mix, at least for North American corns (they're a lot more common in the South American/Andean population) Navajo Robin's egg corn is sort of stippled.
 

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Oh we've just scratched the surface (or should I say, just peeled the pericarp?)

Another fun gene is one that actually can cause the ENDOSPERM to become purple (as opposed to the white or yellow) resulting in a corn kernel that is purple all the way through. As with a lot of the others it's commoner in the South American population, but can show up here too. Last year, when I was popping some of the leftovers from that years takings (the birds eat the corn faster if it is popped/roasted) one of the kernels popped lavender. Would be a fun thing if I could re-find and stabilize it (the problem of course, is that once a popcorn kernel is popped, it's no longer grow able)

And part of the reason why those mini cobs are so unusual is that such things are often IMPOSSIBLE with popcorn. A lot of types of popcorn (though by no means all) have what is known as a P complex in their genes. If a corn has this, it is very difficult for it to accept pollen from any corn except one that also has a P complex. So generally, most popcorn will only cross with other popcorn. There are ways around it (using one of the ones that don't as a bridge for example) but it's more difficult. That's why the stand stuff is so great, it's the result of a perfect storm of odd things happening (a population of incredibly genetically diverse corn being grown without much attention to keeping types discrete, being largely "closed" (in that the stand saves the ears that don't sell and uses those as the seed for the following year) and containing miniature popcorn that does NOT have a P complex and can take pollen from anywhere. Their tomatoes are just as mixed up, if you ever wanted an orange fleshed paste tomato with tiger stripes and a fuzzy peach skin, this is the place to get it. I wouldn't be surprised if I find a fuzzy Green Zebra there before I do from the packets (some time ago, I bought some seed from Tom Wagner (the guy who first bred Green zebra) that was unstabilized proto stock for a tomato he was working on called Blue Wooly Mammoth (a green fleshed fuzzy tomato having the blue skin gene) in the hope that one of the things that might be in there was a fuzzy green fleshed tomato to give a green member to the Garden peach grouping (we have a yellow, white, red, orange and striped, but as yet no green) or a green zebra with fuzz which would be the best of both worlds to me as I like the flavor of green zebras and like what the peach skin does (the fuzzies make it hold dressings for salad a lot better)

And for the record, I was (and am) also planning to some day try and breed a fuzzy black/brown tomato (maybe with something like Mr. Brown as a base) to be named (in honor of my cat)..... Cassia's Hairball! ( I know it is possible, thanks to a nice person from one of the seed companies and some trading, I already have seed for a furry skinned version of Cherokee purple.)
 

Chickie'sMomaInNH

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i'm hoping i could run back to that grocery store Monday & they might still have it. i have today off & the store is in the area where i work, so i'm not going to make a special journey to go that direction. i have other things i need to get done. maybe i'll swing by the local store & see what they have today. i haven't been good this year getting to the farmer's markets so i don't know what they've had on their stands.

i think there were a couple ears that had what you described @Pulsegleaner so they have me curious what they could grow. i didn't do corn this year since i had other projects going on. i have a couple different corns that i plan on growing but i don't want them to cross so the plan is to plant a different one each year & then the next one the next year, & so on. one is Zola's Rose, an experimental that is a sweet corn that is supposed to have red kernels, so i don't want to contaminate that one with anything else i could grow. i only know of 1 person in my neighborhood that grows corn & they are at the opposite end of the neighborhood. hoping they are far enough away cross contamination wouldn't happen.
 

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Well, the best you can usually hope for is an ear with a decent number of speckled kernels (the nature of the genes means it's basically impossible to get an ear of pure speckled; there'll always be some that are pure of each of the colors.

The standard isolation distance to keep corns is about 2 miles, but most of the pollen won't get farther than about 100 ft, so you are probably pretty good.

At some point, if you are interested in colored sweet corns, you might want to try Anasazi sweet (Sandhill carries it) it's probably one of the few truly fully multicolored ones (Sweet Painted Hills tends to lose some color after a generation or two, and Rainbow Inca isn't really fully stabilized (you'll still get a lot of non-sweet kernels)

Oh and if anyone ever gets their hands on seed for Bellingham Blue sweet corn, let me know (I been looking for it for ages)
 
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