Farming Magazine - December, 2011

COLUMNS

Seed Research: Newer Sweet Corn Hybrids

By Dorothy Noble

Today's complicated, yet improved sweet corn genetics have given growers sweet corn choices with the best characteristics of each genetic type.

Farmers from roadside stands to grower/shippers can select from a wide array of new and nearly new sweet corn hybrids that promise great taste and tenderness, appearance, growing vigor, plus disease and even insect and herbicide resistance. The following were available to us at press time:

With ACX SS7403RY, Abbott and Cobb has added an early midseason hybrid with main season performance to its SuperSeedWare line. This 100 percent natural SSW type features stronger germination and vigor for better stands. This tender yellow sweet corn matures its high eating quality ears in 75 days. With protection by dark green husks with good flags, this SummerSweet Multisweet Brand produces workhorse yields on medium-sized plants. Moreover, it shows high resistance to the Rp1G and Rp1l strains of rust, and intermediate resistance to both northern and southern corn leaf blight.

Another hybrid in Abbott and Cobb's new line of sweet corns, SSW 2001MR produces 8-inch ears on strong 7-foot-high plants set at 26 inches in about 74 days. The SSW genetics offer better seed quality. The fuller, less-wrinkled seed imparts more energy to the seedling during germination and flows through planters with ease. A very-high-quality supersweet, its slightly tapered ears with bright white kernels fill the ear with 16 to 18 rows. The husks protect the ears, and the flag leaves add to its attractiveness. This Summer Sweet MultiSweet sweet corn includes the same resistances as the above hybrid.

Maturing in 75 days, 7602MR from Abbott and Cobb has high yield potential. This tasty bicolor, with the Summer Sweet MultiGlow brand, has an attractive ear package with dark green husks and large flags for excellent protection. This Sh2 type grows on a sturdy plant. The disease package includes the above, plus high resistance to maize dwarf mosaic virus 1.

Centest's Mirai 160 Y offers the full complement of flavor and tenderness of the Mirai varieties. This 74-day yellow midseason hybrid has clean, sturdy 6-foot-tall plants that hold their ears at 28 inches. Its slightly tapered 8-inch ears fill well to the tip with 16 rows. The medium green husks protect the tips. With Mirai's superb eating quality, sweetness and flavor, plus long dark green flag leaves and trim shanks, Mirai 160 Y excels for roadside and fresh market sales.

Developed to replace Mirai 302 BC, Mirai 315 BC promises very refined 8-inch ears with outstanding eating quality and tenderness. This 74-day bicolor produces sturdy, clean, 5.5-foot-tall plants. The 16 rows of kernels fill to the tip on cylindrical shaped ears. Its dark green husks and long, dark green flags cover the very tender and sweet kernels.

Crookham's new money series indicates planting for the bottom line. Each offering excels in eating quality, plus has intermediate resistance to common rust, Stewart's wilt and northern corn leaf blight. Ka-Ching, a 76-day synergistic bicolor, offers very strong yield potential. Its slender, well-filled, consistently 9-inch ears deliver great eating quality. The rugged, uniform plants have good snap, tip fill and husk protection. Dealer trials of this moneymaker have produced great results.

Pay Dirt's outstanding eating quality in an early synergistic, 68-day bicolor is a big draw for growers. The vivid color contrast between its white and yellow kernels adds to the attractiveness of its 8-inch ears. Easy snap, good tip fill, excellent husk protection and good ear placement make Pay Dirt grower friendly.

Profit has been Crookham's number one rated synergistic for the past two years in Northeast and Midwest trials. With superior eating quality, it has good snap, attractive husks and solid 8-inch ears. In addition, 70-day Profit is well adapted to the Northeast and Midwest growing regions.

Crookham reports that its 7-263 explodes out of the ground with superior emergence and vigor. A synergistic bicolor, it features better eating quality than its hybrid competitors in the 72-day slot. It is rugged and adaptable with 8.5-inch ears. This money series variety is excellent for starting the season.

Widely adaptable, Silver Duchess' vigor and yield potential has led to outstanding dealer trial scores from North Carolina to Canada. This 78-day Crookham white synergistic 9-inch hybrid fills the tip and handles stress well.

With its acquisition of Mesa Maize, Harris Moran offers Jackie, a 72-day synergistic sugary enhanced hybrid. Its developer notes that Jackie has no low-quality kernels - with both full SE and Sh2 kernels on the same ear. What's more, the ear length, 7.5 to 8 inches, excels for an early sweet corn. Plus, its attractiveness and eating quality furthers the appeal of this fresh market variety. It includes intermediate resistance to common rust and Stewart's wilt.

Several new Gourmet Sweet augmented supersweet hybrids, developed by Illinois Foundation Seeds, deliver taste and tender pericarps, plus keeping and shipping ability. In addition, their excellent green husks cover well and retain their attractiveness. A yellow, Gourmet Sweet 1267, matures in 59 days, while Gourmet Sweet 1673, also yellow, offers 73-day maturity. Gourmet Sweet 3674, a white hybrid, matures in 75 days.

Seminis has released several of their hybrids with new Bt technology. Marketed as the Seminis Performance Series, Monsanto stresses the environmental benefits of this new biotech sweet corn. After consulting with the Food and Drug Administration, the company concludes that it is as safe to consumers as conventional corn.

This new series of sweet corn, according to company research, can reduce insecticide sprays up to 85 percent. It provides excellent protection against European corn borers, corn earworms, fall armyworms and corn rootworm larvae. Plus, it resists Roundup agriculture herbicides for weed control. Thus, it protects both above and below ground.

As of press date, the new technology is available in Obsession II, Passion II and Temptation II hybrids. However, not all states or localities have yet approved biotech sweet corn. Also, growers must agree to the marketing stewardship requirements, and follow the production and harvest requirements.

Obsession, a high-quality bicolor supersweet, matures in 80 days with an ear length of 8 to 8.5 inches. It resists common rust, northern leaf blight and Stewart's wilt. Passion II, also an Sh2, measures 8 inches in length, with 18 to 20 rows. With yellow kernels, it matures in 81 days and has the same resistances as Obsession II. Temptation II, a sugary enhanced bicolor, matures in 72 days, with 7.5 to 8-inch ears and has 16 to 18 rows. The other qualities of these hybrids, such as shelf life, refined kernels and vigor, have been retained by Seminis.

Allure, a 75-day synergistic bicolor, features superlative quality, 8 to 8.5-inch refined ears with 16 to 18 rows of petite kernels. Plus, it has especially good flag leaves. Developed by Seneca Vegetable Research, its tall plant tolerates Stewart's wilt, common rust and northern corn leaf blight.

Cuppa Joe, also a synergistic bicolor hybrid, earlier at 72 days, produces nice-sized ears with a good husk package. In addition, this Seneca Vegetable Research sweet corn has good cold soil emergence and has excellent eating quality. Its disease resistance is the same as Allure.

Expresso, an even earlier bicolor at 70 days, also has exceptional cold soil vigor. In addition, it delivers a large main season type ear at 8 inches with 14 to 16 rows. A synergistic hybrid, its breeder recommends it as a first early corn. It tolerates common rust and Stewart's wilt.

Illusion produces tender kernels of high-quality sweet corn by every measure. The dark green plant matures 14 to 16 rows on 7.5 to 8-inch ears with excellent husk cover and appearance in about 72 days. This synergistic white hybrid, developed by Seneca Vegetable Research, tolerates common rust and Stewart's wilt.

With TripleSweet sweetness and improved eating quality, Primus delivers large yields on clean 6.5-foot-tall plants in 81 days. The 8 to 8.5-inch ears are held at 24 inches. Developed by Syngenta, Primus' attractive husks cover 14 to 16 rows of exceptional corn flavor and creaminess, yet sweeter bicolor kernels. This synergistic hybrid has intermediate resistance to northern corn leaf blight, common rust and Stewart's wilt.

Note: The above sweet corn hybrids are available from dealers and distributors such as Clifton Seed Co., Harris Seeds, Johnny's Selected Seeds, NE Seeds, Rispens Seeds, Rupp Seeds, Seedway, Siegers Seed Co., Stokes and more.

The author is a writer/researcher specializing in agriculture. She currently resides in central Pennsylvania.