Growing Corn: Seed

What Kind of Corn to Grow

Grow the kind that is likely to prove most profitable.  If near a good market for roasting ears or a canning factory sweet corn may prove most profitable, or under certain conditions pop corn might pay best.  For some sections, varieties of the dent-corn group are too soft to resist decay and varieties of the flint-corn group are more profitable.   In practically every corn-growing community there is a strong demand every spring for first-class seed corn.  The acre can be made highly profitable if devoted to the growing of seed corn of the most productive variety for the neighborhood.  If the crop is sold as commercial corn, 50 or 75 cents a bushel will be received, but by selecting at the proper time all that is suitable for seed and giving it good care till planting time $2 or $3 a  bushel can be obtained.

The variety that has generally produced the most good, sound grain in the neighborhood is the variety to plant, and it can be greatly improved by careful seed selection. It is also the corn that will be most in demand for seed throughout the neighborhood.  If corn throughout the county generally fails to ripen properly, take up work with an earlier maturing variety. If the corn generally grows too tall, take up work with seed from stalks that do not grow too tall.  If the most productive varieties of the neighborhood are prolific varieties, take up work with the one that seems to have been giving most general satisfaction.  If the most productive varieties of the neighborhood are 1-eared varieties, take up work with the one that seems to have been giving most general satisfaction.

Selecting Seed for the Acre

Select seed ears in the field from the very best stalks and as soon as the ears are ripe, select at least 100 ears;  200 are much better, and it is still better if some ears of the same variety be selected from a neighboring field or farm.  The acre is to be a seed patch, and the improvement of a variety of corn should not begin with a small number of ears, as close breeding is likely to gradually reduce productiveness.

Preparing the Seed for Planting

Such work as sorting, testing germinating qualities, shelling, etc., should be done in the early spring before field work demands attention.  The best time to grade seed corn is before shelling.  Only heavy, solid ears should be used for seed, and the ears chosen should contain kernels of a good uniform length, width, and thickness.  Ears containing kernels of various sizes and shapes should be discarded.

The ears can be numbered by sticking a pin through a piece of paper into the end of the cob, and 10 kernels taken from each ear can then be tested to determine whether they will grow.  If weak or dead kernels are found, the ears from which they were taken should be discarded.

Before shelling, all small and poorly developed kernels should be removed from the ears, for they will produce weak and barren stalks.

If the seed is to be planted by means of a corn planter, the large, irregular kernels from the butts of the ears should also be discarded before the ears are shelled.

The proper way to shell seed corn is by hand, shelling one ear at a time into a course-meshed sieve. This enables the kernels and cob from each ear to be closely inspected and all kernels to be easily rejected if any defect is found.  The sieve facilitates the separation of the chaff and other small particles from the seed.

Source:  U.S.D.A., 1925

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