SE Seed Video: Corn

Thanks to Sow True Seed for sponsoring the corn episode:

Sow True Seed logo

How to Save Corn Seeds

IT IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO EXPLICITLY STATE THE FOLLOWING: Corn (Zea mays) has an extremely long history in the Americas and is culturally and spiritually significant to native and indigenous communities. The astounding diversity of corn that exists is thanks to thousands of years of seed keeping and stewardship. The very recent history of colonization and European invasion and oppression has caused great harm to both the people and the plants that prospered here for thousands of years. ‘Modern’ corn in North America as bred by European settlers has a very narrow genetic parentage and efforts to ‘save’ corn diversity focus on further European extraction and disenfranchisement of indigenous communities. We recommend Endangered Maize: Industrial Agriculture and the Crisis of Extinction by Helen Curry for a deep dive into this history.

How To Save Corn Seed explores on farm seed saving. Interviews with farmers and growers across the south tell a story of seed heritage deeper than any one variety. Take a deep dive into saving corn seed and learn both the technical side of saving seeds and the reasons why it’s so important.

SPACINGSame as when grown for produce, plant in a block for even pollination
POLLINATIONMonoecious flowers (male and female on same plant) Wind pollinated, very easy to outcross but can self pollinate
SEED LIFE2-3 years
POPULATION SIZEViable seed: 10 plants
Variety maintenance: 50-120 plants
Genetic preservation: 200 plants
SCREEN SIZE10/64 – 26/64 inch
COMMON SEED BORNE DISEASESBlack bundle disease, Fusarium, Seedling blight, stalk rot, ear rot

This video features:

Stephen Smith, The Divine Botanist, Kentucky
Jason Roland, Organically Roland Farm, South Carolina
Amyrose Foll, Virginia Free Farm, Virginia
David Shields, University of South Carolina, South Carolina
Joshua Gochenour, Gochenour Seeds, Tennessee
Jim Embry, Sustainable Communities Farm, Atrus Ballew Farm, Kentucky
Megan Allen-Larzo, Care of the Earth Community Farm, Tennessee
Jamila Norman, Patchwork City Farms, Georgia

Thanks to our video series sponsors:

Two Seeds in a Pod logo
Sow True Seed logo

In 2021 The Utopian Seed Project and Communal Studios received a grant from Southern SARE to create a Southeast Seed video series. The project traveled across 12 states and interviewed over 50 farmers, community gardeners, seed savers, seed growers and seed advocates. The footage was weaved together to tell the story and seed saving of six southern crops: corn, okra, southern peas, collards, sweet potatoes and squash.

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2020-38640-31521 through the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under subaward number LS21-351. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider.