Joseph Lofthouse calls this corn High Carotene Flint. He may be selling it short. Most of the studies I've seen indicate that high carotene maize also has high xanthophyll, which may be more important for human nutrition in the U.S., where we usually get adequate vitamin A. Together, the two groups of compounds are called carotenoids.
Six days after planting, I'm looking at 50% emergence, under less-than-ideal conditions. I am cautiously optimistic. I used the Dave Christensen planting method: Drop kernels in irrigated trench, rake dry soil over trench, tamp with rake.
The kernels are kind of small, which will mean a high ratio of chaff at milling. Maybe I can select for larger kernels.
Nearly all plants produced tassels and silk, but few got past 30 inches in height. Of 55 plants, I ended up with only 4 small cobs. My soil doesn't hold much water, and I am reluctant to irrigate more than twice a week.
The study referenced by grano actually emphasized the value of high total carotenoids, especially anthocyanins. In part, this is because the orange pigments in maize do not necessarily correlate with many of the health benefits of the anthocyanins. One strong benefit of the orange pigments as compared to purple pigments is that orange is readily expressed in the endosperm where the anthocyanins tend to accumulate in the pericarp. Summarizing the study, some varieties of maize produce colored endosperm while others produce colored pericarp. Anthocyanins can be relatively easily extracted from purple pericarp and used as food coloring or perhaps for cosmetics. Anthocyanins in the endosperm can be made into foods that provide health benefits. While Maize Morado might be useful in some contexts, it will never make it as a mainstream production maize because it is based on the high pigment gene which has serious deleterious effects on kernel size and total kernel production.
Ten years ago, BASF had a breeding program for High Protein combined with High Oil maize. See this patent for relevant information. patents.google.com/patent/US6774288 Note that they increased protein, increased oil, but decreased phytic acid (to make phosphorus more bioavailable). There is a synergy from boosting oil content as a larger embryo tends to increase protein content. In other words, boosting oil by 1% increases protein by about .35% as a result of having a larger embryo relative to kernel size. BASF's breeding program did not incorporate high carotene concentrations nor did it include high anthocyanins. Unfortunately BASF discontinued their program because farmers gain no benefit from producing either high oil or high protein maize. Farmers are paid to produce maize by volume which means they are more focused on total starch.
So what would we do if we wanted to breed maize with the benefits of high carotene, high anthocyanin, high protein, and high oil with the intent of producing a better quality animal feed? First we have to understand the limiting genetics of commercial maize. It is low in bioavailable phosphorus. It has inadequate amounts of methionine and lysine. Total energy content by volume is too low therefore higher oil is needed to boost the energy available from a given volume of feed. It has relatively low amounts of carotenoids and anthocyanins which turn out to be important to overall health. Last but not least, it is bred to be relatively hard from producing high density starch so it will withstand shipping and handling. This is why I crossed Cherokee Squaw X PI 648432 a few years ago. I wanted to see how much of an impact boosting the protein level of corn with some anthocyanins would have on egg production. My chickens increased total egg production by about 10% when comparing the higher protein maize vs commercial laying pellets. This does not so much highlight the increased food value of the maize as it shows the inadequacy of the commercial laying pellets. What do I need next? I have seed to increase total oil content which should take the typical 4 to 5 percent up to 10 to 12 percent. I would like to incorporate high carotene. I may be able to obtain some seed next year.
Last Edit: Sept 28, 2019 22:00:23 GMT -5 by DarJones
The 24% is impressive, the multi year data on 0174 looks more like 17% but still well off of the 24. In the picture of the 0174 you see streaks of what appears to be thickened pericarp, do you think that correlates to higher protein? What are you using to test protein? I am kind of in a different camp, as a commercial corn producer, I get paid for yield so I select against protein, kind of indirectly as protein takes Nitrogen to produce. This is why Gemn-0174 is impressive as it had to have similar yields to commercial checks to test out of the Gem program, so as a protein per acre there may be utility. I think your project is very interesting, and would encourage you to put a high value on grain quality, this is part of the reason the commercial feed may be falling short. It is not hard to make feed grade grain, there is often some mold in it. This is pretty bad for egg production as chickens have fairly low tolerances.