I harvested 5 ears of the Cherokee Squaw X Silver King F2 corn today and have 4 of them in a pan boiling for my evening meal. I also have French Fingerling potatoes and several fresh ripe tomatoes to go with the corn. What happened to the 5th ear of corn? It didn't make it into the house.
I've sampled enough of the ears of corn now to have a good idea what to expect. There is a clear maternal effect on the kernel caryopsis (pericarp). Since the seed I planted for this corn should be 1/4 se/se, 1/2 se/SE, and 1/4 SE/SE, the expected result is 1 ear with very tender kernels, 2 ears with moderately tender kernels, and 1 ear with tough typical sweet corn kernels. This is exactly the result I am getting. I am selecting only ears with very tender kernels to save for seed.
Kernel sweetness is segregating according to triploid endosperm rules. I am getting a range of sweetness from normal sugary up to highly sugar enhanced which is about twice as sweet as the normal sugary. I have been going through the rows of corn and shuck the tip of an ear, break off just the last 3 inches of the ear, taste it and determine if it is extra sweet or not. If it is an extra sweet ear, I leave the remainder to mature on the stalk. If it is a moderately sweet or normal sweet ear, then I pull the ear and bring it in to freeze as corn on the cob. So far, I have selected about 20 ears out of 100 to retain for seed.
There is one effect that I did not anticipate. The ears that matured earliest were almost all normal sugary and were smaller than desired. This appears to be a result of a genetic linkage directly tied to the se gene. The ears that are ripening now are running a higher than expected percentage of large well filled ears of corn with extra sweet kernels. I estimate that I am retaining about 1/3 of the ears that I sample now vs 1/8 for the earlier maturing ears.
Flavor is somewhat independent of sweetness. Some corn has a powdery texture and flavor. Some corn is bland. This corn happens to fall almost entirely in the highly edible and good flavored category. The very best ears I've sampled are among the best corn I've ever eaten. The worst ears I've sampled would still qualify as good ears of corn though when I have a choice of the very best vs mediocre, you can guess I pick the best to eat.
It is really easy to tell with this corn when it is at peak ripeness to pick and eat. Just as the first kernels turn pale purple is the optimimum time to pick and eat. The ears will be uniform white until anthocyanin starts to build up in the aleurone. Once the purple color spreads to 1/4 of the ear, it is past peak eating quality for corn on the cob. This is however the optimum stage to make corn dough if anyone likes to make fried corn dough balls.
Among other good traits, this corn is highly resistant to corn earworms. The shucks typically extend 3 to 5 inches past the tip of the ear and are very tight which tends to limit opportunity for ear worms that follow the silks into the tip of the ear.
I am selecting for other agronomic traits including strong stalk, large full ears with 14 or more rows of kernels, uniform pollination giving very full ears of corn, and overall plant vigor.
P.S. my next project is to move the se gene into a Country Gentleman (shoepeg corn) background. I have the plants growing and made the first crosses 2 days ago.
It would be easy to produce a yellow shoepeg with the se gene. Just remember that Country Gentleman is a relatively long season variety. It was 2 weeks later than Silver King. I barely had a few stalks that were still able to pollinate it.
There is a single gene that causes both cupules to develop a kernel of corn. This is what causes the "diagonal" rows which in fact are straight rows just like ordinary corn, but shoved so close together that the kernels wind up looking random.
The advantage of shoepeg corn is that it makes a relatively long kernel which is ideal for cutting off the cob as whole kernel corn. One of my goals is to produce a high quality se corn that is outstanding for this purpose. All current shoepeg varieties are standard su. I want a super tender and sweet corn with the su + se + Shoepeg (see Mads19 and Pi1 and Pi2 genes) traits.
I didn't deliberately self any of the corn this year Joseph.
I went through the 2 rows of corn and sampled about 40 ears this afternoon. My sampling is simple, pull the shucks back from the ear, lean down and take a bite out of it, if I like it, break off the tip of the ear and sample it some more. Then if I really like it a lot, I pull the shucks back up over the rest of the ear and leave it to mature. What about the ears that didn't make the grade? I pulled them and shucked them and put them in a pot to boil. As soon as they finish, I will eat some of them and put the rest in the freezer. It is good sweet corn, just not up to par with the ears I am saving for seed.
I found out a few tricks for selection. Ears with nice pretty straight rows of corn are almost always ordinary sweet corn. I only found 1 ear with pretty straight rows that was good enough to select. The ears that are extra sweet all have a "packed" look with kernels in every available place on the ear and with a kind of pegged look instead of rounded. After sampling about 20 ears, I could easily pick out the good ears before tasting of them. I still did the taste tests, but it was reassuring that I could visually select for good flavored corn based on external traits.
My final results were about 10 ears selected out of nearly 50 ears sampled. That is not quite the 1/4 I would have expected based on the se gene alone which tells me that I am also sampling for other flavor based traits.
Last Edit: Jun 30, 2012 18:56:13 GMT -5 by DarJones
Post by Joseph Lofthouse on Jun 30, 2012 20:37:01 GMT -5
Thanks Dar. In my garden I would attribute the off-ratio to not-so-good germination of the homozygous se seed. I have my seed from this project in the ground. I'm waiting on it to germinate. I'll pay attention to row arrangement this summer.
If you plan to sell your Cherokee King, I would consider working with the straighter rowed ears...better visual appeal. They probably will start throwing some sweeter ears in the next generation. Trying to straighten out the rows down the line may take too many generations to stabilize into a uniform ear.
Last Edit: Jul 1, 2012 10:57:35 GMT -5 by dustdevil
not growing it this year, focusing on the Country Gentleman X Silver King cross. I have tentative plans to cross the (Cherokee Squaw X Silver King) X (Country Gentleman X Silver King) at some point probably 2 years from now. Between the two of them, I hope to get a sweet corn that is more vigorous than most of what is on the market.