Woodbury County, Iowa Genealogy
Woodbury County, Iowa, USA. Click here for the Home page.
HYBRID CORN MAKERS
by Elmer H Larson
The American Indian played a very important role in the salvation of the early white man. Indian corn saved the early pilgrims from starvation. Corn has become the most important crop in the United States.
The early beginning of corn has never been completely proven, but the place of origin is believed to be in the Peru-Bolivia area of South America or in the Mexico-Guatemala area. These two areas contain the greatest number of corn varieties.
The white man discovered that the Indians had many varieties of corn. It has been estimated that they must have had 200 to 400 different varieties of corn up and down the coast and over North and South America.
Indian women were the corn growers and they should be given credit for the development of many of the early varieties. In the northeastern area the Indians grew a slender flint type of corn with 8 or 10 rows of kernels. Further south in Virginia and the Carolinas, they raised a white heavily dented corn with 14 to 30 rows. Other varieties on down into Mexico and South America were grown.
The Indians were producing corn for food. Little did anyone realize that they were also developing many varieties of open pollinated corn. These the white man would later develop to higher levels and finally into the making of hybrid corn.
Corn was the main food crop for most of the Indians of North and South America. Corn has become a major crop in the world’s list of foot crops.
As a boy, Henry Wallace became interested in growing corn. When he was 16 years of age in1904, he attended a corn show which was judged by Professor Holden of Illinois who was regarded as a good authority in this field. When the judging was finished, young Henry went over to talk with Professor Holden. He asked several questions and one of them was if the sample placing first would out-yield the sample placing last. Professor explained how the blue ribbon corn would not only out-yield but would be better quality than the sample placing last.
Young Henry asked if he could get some of the seed to plant next spring. This was done with all the samples and after the harvesting (with witnesses) it was determined that the last sample yielded more than the average from all the better samples.
Young Henry was now convinced that there must be a better way to improve corn breeding.
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