This year we decided to try Zdrowie Flint Corn from Sand Hill Seeds. This corn is from the breeding project of Dr. Frank Kutka getting popcorn genetics into other corns to make them resistant to GMO pollen. The plants are impressive - over 7' high from an April 29th seeding, fat stalks and sturdy brace roots (so far no lodging). We also planted the seed by orientating the kernels parallel with the furrow so that the leaves emerge from the stalk at right angles to the row, making a complete canopy over the paths and into the middle of our 4' wide beds (with 2 rows of corn planted at about 1' spacing within rows). The orientation is supposed to increase yields by about 20% as the leaves have less shading and therefore more photosynthesis happening. Can't wait to see the results.
Last Edit: Jul 5, 2018 9:57:06 GMT -5 by Walk: Added Photo
Is it possible to use this for breeding at all? If it won't accept other pollen how would you do it? Will other corn accept it's pollen?
Yes - GaS1 pollen will be accepted by other plants, and that is the way the allele spreads (or can be transferred) - it kind of evolved as a selfish-gene of sorts.
It is just that non-GaS1 pollen won't pollinate a GaS1 plant, so that is how they keep popcorn from picking up dent pollen from a nearby field, or an heirloom variety from accepting pollen from a GMO hybrid. The barrier would break down very quickly if the farmer growing non-GaS1 plants (at the beginning) saved their own seed (as the allele spreads into that population from yours and then starts to flow back).
The barrier would break down very quickly if the farmer growing non-GaS1 plants (at the beginning) saved their own seed (as the allele spreads into that population from yours and then starts to flow back).
I agree with your conclusion. My miniature non-popcorn seed is probably proof of that (they said they basically let everything pollinate freely and then re-plant the seed.)
An update: In 2018 we grew Zdrowie flint from Sandhill and it did too well for us getting 11.5'-12' tall, too big for our garden beds, and some stalks the ears were so high it was difficult to pick. Great yields but the ears stuck out from the husks about 1-2" and the downy woodpeckers were a challenge (eventually kept them away by running a radio tuned to Wisconsin Public Radio for 3 weeks). I had wondered about the fertility somewhat. We always fertilize our corn patches with "humanure" from our human compost. The corn is on a 4 year rotation on our plot. I've been hearing a bit about nitrogen fixing corns, some of which are being worked on by Walter Goldstein of the Michael Fields Institute in Wisconsin. A friend went to one of his field days this summer and said that the corns were really tall and that the nitrogen fixing was done on brace roots in the air. The Zdrowie corn had brace roots up the wazoo, some as big in diameter as my pinkie finger. It has some South American genetics in its family tree as does some of the corns that Walter is working with. So I was curious if there was any of that self fertilization taking place? Glenn Drowns listed the Zdrowie as being 7-8' tall. Maybe he meant height of cobs from the ground? ;>) Many of the cobs had smaller kernels and some mixed colors, maybe the popcorn genetics coming through, and maybe I could select in that direction? I think that Dr. Frank Kutka, the breeder of this variety, is working with many different new varieties and wanted to get this out there even though it's not entirely a stable line yet. Maybe an easier time to push it in the direction that I would like it to go? The Zdrowie is quite orangey, the meal is bright yellow and very tasty, much better than the Cascade Ruby Gold we've grown previously. I have to say that Zdrowie has the toughest stalks of any corn we've ever grown. They withstood over 50 mph wind storm that lodged adjacent beds of bush beans. I'm wondering if we should try another variety like Amish flint (an earlier version of Longfellow) that might also be high beta carotene but smaller in stature, or should we just grow out the Zdrowie and try to select to downsize it and correct for poor tip coverage? Any insight anyone can offer would be most appreciated.
Generally it is difficult to select for a trait that does not have high incidence in the breeding population. There might be more potential to cross the genetics into an existing breeding line like Cherokee Squaw.
Post by esoteric_agriculture on Jan 29, 2019 14:41:03 GMT -5
I wanted to express my appreciation for this excellent and thorough variety review. It’s often very hard if not impossible to find this sort of detailed description of some lesser known varieties. I have a few packets of Zdrowie that I got from Sandhill a few years back that I haven’t grown out yet. This review really makes me want to try growing some soon. I’m not convinced there are any old North American corn with really truly high carotene content, that trait seems strongly associated with South American and or Caribbean corns. By that I mean Orange endosperm not just orange pericarp. Sandhill used to offer Piamonte Flint, which is basically a South American high carotene Flint , I have seed of that stashed away as well awaiting grow out. Some members here probably have high carotene corn that could be used to correct some of your concerns with Zdrowie. I have some very small quantities of higher carotene corn seed, if no one else offers any better ideas or more seed, I can send you some small amount that you could use for crossing with Zdrowie as the pollen parent.
Thanks for the replies. I wasn't able to get back into this forum for several days. In the interim we PM'd Dr. Kutka on his Facebook page, Corn Culture, about our corn and he was surprised to hear about the size of the plants as it had never grown that big for him. And it turns out that I was mistaken about the popcorn breeding on this variety and he stated that it did not have those genetics. I spent some time looking at Dr. Kutka's old postings on Facebook. It appears that back in April 2017 he was planning on introducing the popcorn alleles into Zdrowie, but don't know yet if he was successful on that plan, so the seed we got from Sandhill in 2018 is without the popcorn allele. He also had a posting that he hadn't found any of the North American flints to be orange endosperm/high betacarotene. There was also a picture of the brace roots that fix nitrogen - they have a bacterial slime on them that's visible. Now I'll know what to look for. After reading those postings, we have decided to plant the Zdrowie again this year. We had selected 56 cobs from the 330 plants we grew that were the most like what we wanted. The flavor and the sturdiness of the stalks were the primary selling points, and the yields were impressive as well. So we'll see what the year will bring. Thanks for the suggestions and offers of other varieties, but I think we need to give this another go before attempting anything more involved.