Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forum › Sustainable Living and Land use › Sustainable Farming › can I grow and save multiple variteties of corn seed?
- November 12, 2017 at 6:46 pm #95874
Does anyone have experience with saving corn seed?
I have a distiller that would like some small volumes (about a ton) of some different heirloom varieties of corn with a “story” (grown with live power!) to try some specialty products. The price of heirloom varieties of corn are pretty expensive (and probably rightfully so). So I’d like to buy seed one year and then save it. But I know corn crosses pretty readily.
My main question is this: If I plant an 85 day corn and a 105 day corn, will they cross (a lot?) What if I plant the 85 day corn on May 15th and the 105 day corn on May 25th? Is that better?
They can be planted at least 1000 feet apart. There are definitely other huge silage and seed corn fields within a mile radius.November 13, 2017 at 12:27 pm #95875
You should not have any trouble. I have Bloody Butcher, Wapsie Valley and Silver King going and no problems. Organic. We’ll start combining in a few weeks. With all the humidity things are drying slowly. Neighbors with conventional corn are also using driers. Looks like our area of southern Wisconsin is about 50-60% harvested.
Drop me a note.
MikeNovember 13, 2017 at 12:38 pm #95876
Mike do you plant at the same time? Ive heard you need succession planting for multiple varieties of corn less than 1/2 mile away.November 14, 2017 at 1:31 am #95880
We grow Wapsie Valley (85-90 day) right next to fields of 105 day silage corn. The silage is generally planted in June, so we make sure to get ours in mid May, so that time is our buffer instead of distance. It helps that ours dries down fast too because the blackbirds like to go for the ears with the softest kernels, and that is generally not our field when they arrive to feed up before migration.November 14, 2017 at 7:29 am #95882
I have grown and breed OP corn for over 40 years and I have seen some unusual things with corn.
the one thing I will tell you as fact is that nature finds a way. By that I mean the so called pure strains of corn always cross. OP corn has a staggered pollination period some times as long as three weeks which our modern hybrid corns do not have. It is one of the reasons it is harder to dry down OP corn then hybrid but it is part of the survival mechanism of OP corn. I have seen lots of rules in the organic community of set asides but again nature finds a way. In Mexico they have created strict rules to try and keep the heritage varieties of corn away from the GMO corn. They are still finding GMO genes in OP corn that is a hundred miles down wind from the nearest GMO corn. Pollen travels. Again it is another survival mechanism.
When I started in OP the very wise man I got my first corn told me not to get myself bend out of shape about this issue and he was correct. Some out crossing actually helps the genetic diversity of the corn. Create a good sound breeding and selection process for your seed and breeding program and let the varieties do the rest. The biggest mistake people make is not growing enough OP. Small plots or acres do not give you enough diversity to breed really good corn. It is the small plots that cross pollination becomes more of an issue. Hope that is of some help.November 14, 2017 at 8:49 am #95883
You are exactly right. OP is a mix of many strains of the same corn. We have stalks from 8 to 13 feet tall on all the varieties we grow. Ear sizes and kernel counts vary. Went for a little field walk yesterday after this topic came up and found perfectly dry ears in the majority of cases, I had just hit the odd damp one when I pulled the first samples. The farmer who has a rented field next to us notices some purple in his….it’s a half mile to our Bloody Butcher!November 15, 2017 at 8:08 am #95888
The other issue for first time grower of Op corn is a caution. With OP always, be prepared to share. I don’t know the number of people who wanted just a little OP corn to plant a plot. In the fall I would ask them how it did and they would say, “I will never grow that again.” When I asked why the answer was always the same, the coons, bear, deer, and porcupines ate all of it but they never touched my hybrid corn. Do wild animals know something we don’t? The moral of the story is if you want to grow OP corn plant a large enough acreage so that you can share.November 15, 2017 at 6:41 pm #95889
Ha ha!!! Boy, the coons have the outside three rows pretty beat up in places……and the conventional chemical field north of my Wapsie Valley is ‘almost’ untouched. The deer take what they can but prefer mine. The Bloody Butcher is especially tasty it seems. Ground a little Silver King and it is great stuff. When we get all 14 acres of the OP stuff in palletainers to dry some more and use for grinding it will be a good year. The totes fit on top of a frame that feeds down into the mills.
OP!!! Only way to go. Vaughn at Green Haven will help all he can.November 15, 2017 at 9:55 pm #95890
Yes the wildlife certainly know where the good stuff grows. Hundreds of acres around us and they flock to our 3 acres of OP.November 21, 2017 at 2:12 pm #95913
Thanks, everyone, for your feedback! I’ve grown 1.25acres of Reids Yellow Dent the past two years, and we definitely share some with the wildlife.
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