Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Breeding Time In The Cornfield!

Isn't that a lovely corn breeding apron?  Only in California!
On a day when the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange 2011 Catalog arrived, I was out bagging my corn.  

This is significant because it was Southern Exposure that sold the bags I put on my corn. 

I noted their catalog has some things in it that one cannot find in other catalogs; they have the best selection of okra I've ever seen in a catalog, colored cotton (no shipping to California, however), a nice selection of edamame, and a good collection of open-pollinated vegetables, flowers and herbs.  

But what causes my interest in Southern Exposure Seed Exchange's catalog is in their offering of seed saving supplies and especially the tools a person needs to breed corn.  The white bags in the photo are 'shoot bags' - they cover corn ears and - especially - the silks, which are the female flowers of corn.  The brown bags are 'tassel bags.'  These cover the tassels of the corn and I hope I got them on in time to catch the pollen.  Tomorrow AM, I will be at The Learning Garden sometime close to 7:30 to open the tassel bags and will pour the pollen onto the silks. The silks are then covered with the pollen bags and, if I've done my job correctly, all the kernels in these ears will have parents from this stand of corn only.  This is the first year of this job that will need to be repeated for several more years before this is a stable corn.

Already noted about this corn is that each plant bears multiple ears, and it is extremely vigorous and early!  Some one asked me the other day if it tasted good.  I don't know.  That will have to be answered later.

I'm really excited about the possibility of making a difference in how people eat.  I'm really excited to be growing what will become a whole new variety of corn!  And we'll eat the ones that don't conform so it isn't like anything will be lost!

Stay tuned to this station for more stories from the crib of corn sex!


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