History is growing in Alexander

Wild Teosinte planted in the Genetic Garden

The living museum of corn planted at Latham Hi-Tech Seeds’ headquarters is growing! Teosinte and Green & Golden Dent varieties required replanting on June 5 due to a lack of moisture and emergence issues. After a much needed 0.9” of an inch of rain in Alexander on June 15, the Genetic Garden is rejuvenated and well on its way!

Wild teosinte the oldest ancestor of corn originated from what is now Mexico and Central America. This corn has very small seeds that were hand planted because of their delicate size. The seeds are prism shaped with a flat bottom

Wild Teosinte cob is very delicate

that lays tight to the other seeds to make a cob. The color of the seed is dark brown and this is thought to help disguise them from predators that would eat the seeds. The wild teosinte accession planted in the genetic garden is growing very well; this plant is delicate and resembles more of a grass type plant.

Corey Catt, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds Forage Products Manager, and I had the privilege of meeting Mark Millard, Geneticist/Maize Curator at the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station(NCRPIS) in Ames, Iowa. We were given a tour of the facilities including the seed storage facilities. More than 20,000 accessions of zea maize are in cold storage where they can be kept viable for around 30 years. Accessions of maize are regenerated in order to keep supply available for researchers and educators across the world. Along with the collections of maize, varieties of ornamental plants, vegetables, oilseed crops, amaranth and other few other miscellaneous crops are stored at NCRPIS.

Collection of zea maize at the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station, Ames, Iowa

I am looking forward to seeing the continued growth of our Genetic Garden and learning more about each variety. In the coming weeks, we’ll begin researching and building a walking museum at the plot. Look for more updates on the Genetic Garden on TheFieldPosition.com. We’d also like to invite you to see it for yourself! Take a walk through our “living museum of corn” on Saturday, Aug. 25, during the Latham Country Fair.