Sweet corn label
Common name: Sweet corn, maize
Botanical name: Zeya mays
Family: Poaceae (grass family)
Aspect & soil: Sun, well-drained soil
Best climate: All
Propagation: Seed, seedling
CORN IS A HUNGRY PLANT SO IT’S BEST TO FOLLOW A LEGUME CROP SUCH AS BROAD BEANS.
It’s thought sweet corn was first domesticated in Mexico about 10,000 years ago and since then it has become a staple food for many. If you’ve only ever eaten supermarket corn you’d be forgiven for thinking all varieties are yellow. In fact, heirloom corn comes in a rainbow of colours and flavors, each with its own unique qualities.
Sweet corn, as the name suggests, refers to varieties bred to be more sugary as opposed to their maize corn relatives, mostly used for cornmeal or popping corn.
In the commercial growing world, many sweet corn varieties are now genetically modified to make them resistant to weed-killing herbicides such as glyphosate or to produce proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which in turn kill pests.
Breeding for particular traits, including flavour and sweetness, has resulted in many F1 hybrids or hybrid varieties, the seeds of which cannot be collected and resown the following season. Heirloom sweet corn is non-hybrid, open pollinated and not genetically modified.
Heirloom sweet corn is genetically diverse and there are many seed suppliers around Australia encouraging us to grow these old varieties in our gardens.
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