“Number 2 yellow dent” vs. real corn

We are now in the watermelon-a-day club, trying to keep up with the ripening fruits. We have started eating fried slabs of eggplant “steaks” along with freshly steamed young soybeans and an almost-daily smoothie made from freshly-picked raspberries, sunflower seeds, and some apple juice, blended into a “milk”. The sweet corn season has ended, with the remaining ears left to dry down for this winter’s tortilla corn. Which brings to mind the reason for this blog’s title.

In the past couple of years we have had to start shifting to new varieties of corn and earlier planting times, partly to find a corn that satisfied all of our cooking demands and partly to avoid cross-pollination with neighboring field corns. It used to be a bit easier to deal with the possibility of pollination overlap when our nearest neighboring farmer was growing a corn destined to become silage for his cows. But now that he’s getting older he has decided to rent out his corn fields to a nearby “farm manager” of a “family farm” comprised of over 30 farms in 3 counties, pulling down over a million dollars/year in federal farm subsidies just in one county. They grow the latest G.M.O. Round-Up Ready, commodity corn that increasingly gets turned into the federally-subsidized ethanol that gets blended with gasoline, lowering our Geo Metro’s gas mileageĀ  from 50 to 45 mpg. So we have to plan our corn crops to work around this new challenge.

The plan for next year includes early seeding of a super-early sweet corn, some for eating and some for seed, which pollinates well before the field corn. At the same time we will plant an early-season flint corn which also pollinates before the local chemi-corn, used as a dry corn for tortillas, parched corn, and corn meal, with some saved for the next year’s seed. And later, just before the G.M.O. stuff pollinates, we may plant another patch of the sweet corn for fresh eating but not for seed, which just needs to beat our usual Sept. 30 first-frost date. Hopefully this will all work out. I don’t think that “#2 yellow dent” will disappear as long as the feds can afford farmer welfare and farm fuel subsidies, so we just have to learn how to grow around it. Thankfully we still have a wide selection of varieties available which can help us do so, mostly due to the efforts of seed-saving growers and small seed companies who know the real value of not doing what everyone else does!

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