Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tropical Corn

I'm going to give a shot at growing a small patch (sixteen square feet) of sweet corn this fall, sowing sometime in August, hopefully harvesting some ears for Thanksgiving. After a lot of searching, I chose Silver Princess Hybrid, since it offers very early harvest, good disease resistance, and sturdy plants. I poked around the 'net for advice on growing corn in a sub-tropical climate (which ours is, kind of...) and came across this great picture of tropical corn in Peru from Breeding Field Crops.

Corn used to be grown extensively here in Central Florida, but that period ended with the Lake Apopka cleanup effort, which involved buying out hundreds of acres of field, many devoted to corn. The phosphorous and nitrogen run-off from these farms, combined with degraded wetlands caused by wanton development, destroyed the ecosystem supporting Lake Apopka,. When I moved here at the end of the 1990s, wading birds were (no exaggeration) falling dead from the sky and Apopka's shores were lined with dead bass...

There is at least one farm -- Scott's -- around Zellwood, FLA, which grows significant crops of corn, and, even though I wince at the ecological harm and the amount of pesticides and fungicides, I buy some every fall and again at the end of spring. Zellwood grows seriously good corn, for sale from the backs of pickups on byways at fifty-cents an ear. One of our family fall/spring traditions is to hold a shrimp boil made of Zellwood corn, potatoes and freshly-caught shrimp. We also find the time to visit the Zellwood Corn Maze in October to buy pumpkins and corn.

3 comments:

Kylee said...

Are you sure that's not photoshopped? I mean, I know things grow bigger in the tropics, but wow.

heybrah said...

If you are interested in corn varieties suitable for tropical or subtropical regions, contact Dr. Jim Brewbaker of the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He's one of the world's experts in tropical corn varieties.

Anonymous said...

So I'd like to know how your corn turned out! I also live in Central Florida, and I would like to try growing some corn this fall.

--Ann