At the end of this summer, many of us will enjoy the sweet taste of sweet corn. About 70% of the global supply of hybrid, moderate and sweet corn seeds is grown in the Idaho Treasure Valley. Its growing conditions are suitable for growing seeds, and sweet corn is not their only seed crop.
Basics of seed production
While sweet corn grown in orchards requires self-pollination, corn seed production relies on both self-pollination and inter-pollination.
Self-pollination is the pollination of a plant by landing on the female part of the flower of the same plant or plant of the same species. In order for self-sustaining plants to produce continuous offspring, there must be a continuous genetic basis.
Inter-pollination occurs when plant pollination falls on the female flowers of different species. If you have a pumpkin fruit that looks amazing, it’s the result of cross-pollination last year. Pollination of pumpkins this year will not affect the fruit of the plant. This applies to all plants in which the yield of fruit is important, not seeds, for example, cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, peppers, apples and peaches. Sweet corn differs in that it eats its seeds, not its “fruit”.
Corn seeds that are intentionally pollinated are called hybrids – usually indicated by a “hybrid” or “F1” that is included in the name. This is maize that is grown in gardens. Although these first-generation seeds produce tasty corn, if they are self-pollinated, the seeds will not be retained from these first-generation plants – there are many genetic differences in the seeds. This is why farmers with their favorite varieties need to buy new seeds of corn, not store them themselves.
Corn seed production
Sweet corn seed production is a two-step process. Pure strains of the two parent plants should be kept. The parent plants are each considered a “pure line” that has been developed and bred over many years, and they contain one of the recessive genes that affect the sweetness of corn.
Hybridization of sweet corn seeds is the crossing of these two “pure line” parents. Corn is the same – one plant has male flowers (fresh) and female flowers (ears). To avoid self-indulgence in the production of sweet corn, one “clean line” parent should be a female parent plant and the other a male parent plant. Rows of female plants are commonly referred to as rows of cows, and rows of male plants are commonly referred to as rows of oxen.
Rows of cows are built by destroying plant stalks in the rows of cows. Thus, only the dust of oxen pollinates the oxen. After that, the seeds of the row of cows are collected as sweet corn seeds, which are grown in the gardens. The seeds of the bull row can be collected for next year’s bull row.
In order for the branches of the cows to be pollinated, when the silk of the cows is ready to be pollinated, they need to be planted at different times. All fields in the seed production process, producing a ‘clean line’ as well as F1 production, should be separated to prevent the entry of undesirable traits. In addition, there are brigades that cheat to destroy non-native varieties of crops.
There are a lot of great varieties of sweet corn that you love so much. Next week’s article will discuss growing sweet corn in the garden.