Tevis from Crabapple Farm reported the following about their Flint Corn trials:
We grew Abenaki / Roy’s Calais Flint from three sources: Fedco, High Mowing, and Adaptive Seeds.
We also grew Cascade Ruby Gold from two sources: Adaptive and Sadie. (At least I think that is what we got from Sadie). Sadie had sorted hers for color, separating the yellow from the red.
In addition, we had two small patches of native varieties from NY state: Mohawk Red and Iroquois White. We got both of these from Rowan White of Sierra Seeds.
We had significant loss at planting time from crows; I didn’t get the flash tape up in time. I estimate that we lost at least 50%. Not all seed lots were equally affected, and I don’t know anymore whether it was the early-germinating (before the crows noticed) or late germinating (after the scare tape went up) or just plain lucky (seeded a little deeper) that survived best, so I can’t say whether it indicates any genetic differences, or which is desirable.
Fedco’s seed lot of Abenaki had by far the best yield, but I think this is mainly due to a better population. Ear sizes were comparable in all the variations of the variety.
I think that Adaptive Seed’s lot had the most red and orange ears, and High Mowing had the most yellow. Adaptive has been specifically selecting for color, especially orange / gold. Fedco also had a good number of Orange / Gold ears.
So far, we can’t tell the difference between the Abenaki and Cascade Ruby Gold. They look very similar.
Since Sadie sorted for color, and we planted them separately, I can’t say how the two strains (from Carol Deppe via Sadie versus via Adaptive) compare for color ratios. However, we did count cobs on what we got from Sadie, and found that the yellow kernels yielded approx. 75% yellow ears and 25% red/orange and the red kernels yielded approx. 65% red/orange ears and 35% yellow.
According to Carol Deppe, red is dominant or co-dominant, so from a red selection ought to produce 75% red. Yellow ought to be homozygous, and so ought to produce 100% yellow offspring. However, the red color is a maternal trait, and so yellow kernels can carry red genes from the paternal side, resulting in a heterozygous plant producing red cobs (apparently about 25% of the population). Similarly, some percentage (about a third) of the red cobs are heterozygous, producing yellow ears. In an open field setting, with free crossing between plants, one could influence the ratio between the colors easily but it would be very difficult to create pure-color lines without several years of controlled self-pollination.
I need to look more closely at the orange / bronze / gold color range in this and in Abenaki – I’m not clear if this is a separate color gene locus or a different color gene on the same locus as red / yellow. My feeling is that the full color spectrum is probably a result of the interplay between two separate color loci.
The Mohawk Red and Iroquois White were quite distinctive, both from each other and from the Abenaki.
Mohawk Red is fairly short, early, and tillers freely (at least in the high fertility situation where we planted it). Cobs are (almost) all solid red, shorter than Abenaki and fatter. Abenaki / Cascade all seem to be 8-row, whereas the Mohawk tends towards 10-row. As an additional note, the Mohawk Red seemed to develop it’s kernel color with maturity – at the milk stage, the kernels were yellow.
Iroquois White is very tall and late. It isn’t quite fully ripened yet, so we haven’t picked them. Given their current maturity, I think that they will ripen adequately at this point, barring a hard freeze (they are very close). Ears seem to be long, 8-row. Seems more like the Narragansett / Rhode Island type, though I didn’t grow that this year for comparison. We didn’t plant as early as we could have, but this seems to need the full length of our growing season.
We also grew out Rose Potpourri Sweet Corn from Turtle Tree and Double Standard from Johnny’s. We really liked Rose Potpourri, and let a bunch mature to save seed, but alas, racoons ate all of it. Next year. One of our main lessons this year was that, around here, on a small scale, it is very important to protect corn from predators – crows and raccoons put a serious dent in our yields.