Growing Corn

Posted on 2023-09-17

[MB] Personally, I don’t grow corn anymore because for my purposes (cornmeal) it takes up a ton of space for not that much return. But for those interested in growing corn, it would be wise to buy several years’ worth of non-GMO seed (and preferably heirloom or open-pollinated) right now. The seed could be stored in the freezer for as long as we still have electricity; and this would keep the seed viable for several years. For those who want corn for cornmeal or for animal feed, the best corn types are dent corn and flint corn (both are types of “field corn”). Flint corn tends to be more insect-resistant than dent corn, and both types are more insect resistant than are the flour-corn varieties. For what it may or may not be worth, my favorite dent corn was Reid’s Yellow Dent; and my favorite flint corn was Floriani Red Flint. Corn can be made more productive as a homestead crop if the whole plant is utilized instead of just the dried kernels. Green corn can be cut and made into silage. I’ve never done it, but I have read that homestead-amounts of silage can be made in large trash cans or even in contractor-sized garbage bags (not sprayed with pesticides, of course). Even for field corn or flint corn which as dried down in the garden or field, the dried corn leaves and husks can be used for animal feed (particularly for sheep, goats, and cattle… not sure if chickens or ducks would like them much), and the dried stalks and cobs (once the kernels have been removed) can be chopped and fed to livestock (same caveat about chickens and ducks). For those interested in saving seed from homegrown corn, it’s a very tricky process that is made trickier by the facts that (1) so much of the corn grown around the country is GMO (and with that new Monsanto Frankencorn on the horizon, this is even more of a concern), and (2) corn is wind-pollinated (and the information sources that I looked at recommended isolation distances of anywhere from 1,600 feet to 1/2 mile or more). Seed-saving requires bags for both the ears and the tassels, and those bags ought to be purchased now while still available. There are good books and websites that detail how to save seed from corn…. I can look later, but I think that Steve Solomon’s book (Gardening when It Counts), Carol Deppe’s book (The Resilient Gardener) and Suzanne Ashworth’s book (Seed to Seed, 2nd edition) may have details.

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