First-Of-Its-Kind Purple Sweet Corn
Munk Bergin’s purple sweet corn is like no other. The Soltera Morado kernels are good to eat whole or as corn meal. The silk has medicinal uses. The cobs can be processed for a rich purple dye, and even the baby cobs and husks can be used.
  “We harvest the silk early, and the workers who pick it eat the baby cobs like you would cucumbers or they can be used in a stir fry,” says Bergin. “You can put the husks in a pitcher of water and steep them for sun tea. Pour off the tea and sweeten it with honey. It’s such a refreshing and energizing drink that I dilute it.”
  Bergin spent four years working with researchers investigating nutrient density levels in heirloom varieties. He explains that because all the plant components are a deep purple color, the corn is loaded with antioxidants. They have health benefits for people as well. Bergin believes it has at least 4 times and perhaps as much as 20 times the anthocyanins as blueberries.
  “The color gets even deeper when the corn is cooked,” he says. “The deep colors have an impact on taste. These rich, dense colors accentuate the flavor you experience.”
  Bergin says the amazing Soltera Morado resulted from crossing open pollinated corn lines he has been breeding for more than 30 years. He first crossed various red cob and white cob flour and sweet corn lines to develop a red sweet corn he calls Blood Brothers. Then in 2002, he crossed Blood Brothers (male) with Martian Red, a sweet corn with purple cobs.
  “Two years later I found 5 purple plants in a 3-acre field of Blood Brothers,” recalls Bergin. “From 2005 until 2008, I grew the purple plant seeds in isolation. I called them Purple Sage.”
  In 2009, he crossed them to Double Red, and Soltera Morado was the result. Since then he has been growing the seeds out, increasing his population and trying to further purify both Blood Brothers and Soltera Morado for red and purple traits respectively.
  “I plan to start contracting with growers to produce the seed for me next year,” he says. “I have some contracted this year.”
  Bergin is very excited about the unique purple corn. He says nutraceutical companies are also very interested. However, he hopes to keep the seed out of commercial, corporate hands.
  “I hope to put it in the hands of market gardeners and small growers,” says Bergin. “It has an old-time corn flavor that is not sugar enhanced.”
  Bergin says small amounts of the Soltera Morado seed are currently available at about $40/lb. Blood Brothers is priced at $30/lb. Eventually the price likely will drop, but for the near term, it has to be grown in small lots in isolation from hybrid corn.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Munk Bergin, P.O. Box 101, Monument, Ore. 97864 (ph 541 806-6865;

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #5