corn seed saving...impractical?

eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)March 18, 2009

Is it worth bothering to save seeds from corn in a home garden? I am growing Golden Bantam and Country Gentlemen - very different maturity times, so they won't cross pollinate, and I am the only one that I know of growing corn in my area, so there is not really a chance there either...

Anyway, is it practical to save the seeds from my few (less than 100) plants and use them to sow next year? I've considered that the plants that do the best in my garden may be the ones that I want to save for the following year and they might actually develop a tolerance to my specific growing conditions...or is this just non-sense and the potential gains would not outway the potential loss of too much genetic material and my corn become too "in-bred"?

Any help would be appreciated.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

They are hybrids (all corn is hybrid, some are just a bit more stable than others) and won't breed true anyway so I wouldn't bother. You'd likely spend all that time and effort only to discover it reverted to it's dent corn parent.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 3:27PM
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remy_gw

Hi Eaglesgarden,
Your varieties are old heirlooms and will come true from seed. But it is not practical to save seed because corn is very susceptible to inbreeding depression. It is recommended to plant at least 200 of one variety to ensure a diverse genetic make up. So corn does not make a good candidate for saving from the best plants like other crops may be.
Remy

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 9:08PM
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or_heirlooms(8a)

Eaglesgarden,
Although inbreeding depression can be a problem. If you're going to grow a lot of corn (at least 500 plants), I say go for it.
Also, planting orientation is crucial.
I believe there aren't enough people interested in saving the seed. This is why every year, it's getting harder and harder to find heirlooms. The agri-giants are destroying it with their GM crops. If we aren't proactive, you won't find heirloom corn anymore.
People have been saving corn for centuries. Don't let anyone deter you.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 11:53AM
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remy_gw

Or Heirloom,
EaglesGarden stated they were growing less than 100 plants. Having the ability or space to grow more may not be avaliable to them.
I would never deter someone from growing heirlooms and saving seeds when practical. I spend a lot of time answering questions to this forum, because I think it is very important to get the correct information to be successful at saving seeds.
Remy

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 6:19PM
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or_heirlooms(8a)

Remy, you're correct. I'm sorry.
I missed the "less than 100".
My bad.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 9:39AM
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remy_gw

Or Heirlooms,
No problem : ) Heaven knows I've miss read lots of things!
Remy

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 11:25PM
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linzelu100(7a)

I'd like to re-open this post if that's ok. I am a small scale seed collector and I am going to grow corn this year, because space is not an issue anymore. I am lucky enough to try glass gem corn and I don't want to mess it up, because I'd like to save seed from it and continue the line. My concern is this: I would also like to grow Golden Bantam sweet corn b/c it tastes good. Golden Bantam is supposed to be 80 days and glass gem (all I could find online about it) is 110-140 days. Could I plant them at the same time and not worry about the two crossing? Do you know if these days to maturity are accurate? I may never be able to get glass gem again so I don't want to mess it up, but we also don't want to buy GMO corn to eat/can from the grocery either. Thanks :)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 6:20PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Can you plant them at the same time? No. DTM are at best estimates and affected by so many variables as to make them pretty pointless in issues such as this.

You don't indicate your zone or location in your post - which is vital info to have - so I can't help with the planting time spacing you would need but at least a 30 day delay in planting the Gem and longer if your growing season will allow. That way the GB will be well past tasseling.

Better yet if you want to save Gems seeds then grow only Gem. Corn crosses so readily that even if there are other gardeners or growers with a mile you may still get some crossing unless you do hand pollination - which is what I would recommend - bag and tag some ears to save for seed and hand pollinate them.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 6:30PM
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linzelu100(7a)

Dave, I am very happy you responded! I wasn't sure if bagging the corn ears/tassles was my only sure way to save seed. I live in Virginia 7a. There is no issue of crossing corn with neighbors. The Glass gem corn is supposed to be a long one, so would it be best to plant that corn and then 30 days later, sweet corn? If I plan on bagging the ears- it won't matter the planting dates correct? Do you have any suggestions for where to buy the ear bags? Southern Exposure seed exchange sells them I know. I would like a bag that can be reused over and over again if possible. I hate to waste. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 7:51PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The Glass gem corn is supposed to be a long one, so would it be best to plant that corn and then 30 days later, sweet corn?

Just the opposite. The weather will be coller for the first planting so the GB may tassle late and the Gem may tassel early because the weather will be much warmer later in the season. You want the sweet well done before the GEM tassles.

If you are going to bag and catch it right on time then the planting is up to you. Most don't want to risk crossing if something comes up right at the wrong time. Miss it by 1/2 a day and you are screwed.

Just buy tulle at the fabric store, double layer it and stitch up the bags. You can even use brown paper lunch bags.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 9:58PM
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