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Corn Breeding: Lessons From the Past

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A New Race of Corn Is Born

Fig. 5: Northern Flint (Longfellow, left), Southern Dent (Gourdseed, right), and an example of a Corn Belt Dent (middle) (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2004)

Both by accident and by design, the settlers crossed the Northern Flints and the Southern Dents. From these crosses emerged an entirely new race of corn called the Corn Belt Dents. This race is the ancestor of nearly all the corn hybrids currently produced in the United States. The Corn Belt Dent race is variable in appearance, but ears are cylindrical or slightly tapered and have 14 to 22 rows of kernels that are characteristically dented at the crown at maturity (Figure 5).

As the new American farmers spread westward, they took their corn seeds with them and continued to make crosses between different types of corn, most often Northern Flints and Southern Dents. The result of this activity was the development of many open-pollinated varieties (OPV’s). (Figures 6a-6e)

Fig. 6a: Open-pollinated varieties (Lancaster Sure Crop, left and Reid Yellow Dent, right) (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2004)

Fig. 6b: Open-pollinated variety, Lancaster Sure Crop (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2004)

Fig. 6c: Open-pollinated variety, Reid Yellow Dent (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2004)

Fig. 6d: Open-pollinated variety, Midland (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2004)

Fig. 6e: Open-pollinated variety, Jarvis (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2004)


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