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Square Ear Sweet Corn
A scientist searching for missing links in the genetic history of corn has come up with a variety of square ear sweet corn that dates back nearly 10,000 years.
Dr. Walton Galinat, researcher at the University of Massachusetts Suburban Experiment Station, Waltham, Mass., made a big splash in the news media a couple years ago when preliminary results of his research was first made public. He even ended up in the pages of "People" magazine. At the time people thought there might be some commercial applications for his square sweet corn.
"People said it would be ideal for airline meals because it wouldn't roll off the plate. It would also pack better in boxes than round corn. Interest in it now, however, is more as a novelty item and as a scientific missing link to the first corn varieties," explains Galinat.
The researcher, who has grown more than 30,000 different corn varieties and crosses during his career, says the square ear was a cross between an ancient variety of wild grass corn called "teosinte" and a "Golden Bantam" variety. That cross yielded a genetic variety dating back thousands of years and provided a stepping stone to more modern varieties. The square ears have just 4 rows of kernels and a very small cob, which results in its square shape. The kernels are full-size and, according to those who've tried it, surprisingly tasty.

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1985 - Volume #9, Issue #2