>> "At Pioneer, we like to think that we have the best corn
>> varieties, and we probably do. But the differences are
>> measured in a few bu/A."
> ...are there no yardsticks for quality other than bu/A? It
> seems to me that as long as that is the primary goal of breeding
> we are chasing the wrong ideal.
I was oversimplifying to make a point in response to Greg's concern about
control of germplasm resources. My point was that although seed companies
talk a lot about how wonderful and unique their varieties are, in a genetic
resource sense, they are not that unique, and not THAT much different from
publicly available material. If you grab with one hand some Reid Yellow
Dent, and with the other a handful of Lancaster Surecrop, you have at your
disposal most of what made the US seed industry famous. What we have done
is to take the pieces and put them together in peculiarly productive ways.
This sounds easy, but it isn't because of the tremendous diversity and size
of the corn genome.
Besides yield itself, related agronomic characteristics corn breeders select
include strong stalks, good roots, small silk delay under stress, emergence
and growth at low temperature, disease resistance, and ability to make an
ear at very high stand densities.
> When I grow corn (or any other crop) to feed myself and some
> of my neighbours maximum ear size is not in the equation. My
> goal is to please the senses - smell, taste, appearance, texture
> - first and nutrition second.
We market food-grade corn varieties. I don't know if they select for
flavor, I think they mainly go after resistance to ear molds, freedom from
"beeswings", white cobs, and physically strong kernels.
All this is market driven, and I believe some seed companies cater to the
specialty corn market.
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