Is corn a good fit for #seedsavingformarketgrowers?
If you’re growing an open pollinated variety (and not an F1 hybrid) and if you have a strategy to manage cross pollination, then the answer is YES!
That is assuming you’re even growing corn for your market garden. (Corn’s $ per bedfoot might not make it the most profitable choice on a smaller acreage.)
We’re surrounded by 2 dairy farms and an organic grain producer so we often have corn growing in the neighbourhood.
We handle unwanted crossing by starting our early corn varieties in the greenhouse and then planting them out to the field. This let’s our plants flower before the neighbour’s and reduces most chances of pollination.
If you’re growing sweet corn, you can also see any crossed up kernels once the seed has dried down. You can then simply pick them off the cob before cleaning the rest of the seed.
You might also see crossing between other types of corn and be able to manually remove crossed seed in those cases. But I’ve got less experience with that and don’t have a lot of pointers for you.
I think I should add that we only grow seed corn for sale through our seed company. It’s mostly used by gardeners. We don’t grow any corn for market or CSA.
This isn’t a rallying call to grow corn in your market garden.
Rather, if you’re already growing OP corn, then you should figure out an isolation strategy and save some seeds!
The PROS of saving Corn seed:
- Readily go to seed in your field
- Crossed up kernels between sweet corn and other types are easy to spot
- Lots of great open pollinated varieties for corn that isn’t sweet corn
- Annual – from seed to seed in 1 season
The CONS of saving Corn seed:
- Crossers gonna cross
- Identifying crossed up kernels between similar types of corn might take a bit of practice
- Most commercial varieties are NOT open pollinated
- Sweet corn seed might need a lot of extra time to dry down
Sweet Corn: 10 lbs to 15 lbs from a 100ft bed
Other Corn Types: 10 lbs to 30 lbs from a 100ft bed