Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler

The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

The first shared selection of our Astronomy Domine Project makes it back home!

Howdy again folks, just another quick blog for tonight. If you have been following our blog here for a while or have read the Homegrown Goodness message board over the past couple of years then you will have already have read about our Astronomy Domine sweet corn project. In short the project is one of the first Hip-Gnosis Seed Development co-operative projects. A couple years back I mixed a number of accessions of sweet corn together, both hybrid and heirloom, mostly of colors not commonly found in sweet corn. The first material released (fall of 2007) was made up of a cross of over 30 varieties, some common, some rare, some nearly extinct. This material was distributed all over the world to interested growers in the form of F2 seed giving everyone to make selections that would be adapted to their own micro-climate and geographical conditions. Selections for early season and cool soil tolerance were encouraged while the main goal of the corn experiment (other than being the sweet corn with the largest family tree) was to select for vivid colors which are usually an expression of the anti-cancer fighting phytochemical anthocyanin. John Grahm (Johno on the message board, look in the links section for his excellent blog) showed a very early optimism for this project and as such was a recipient of the F2, very genetically diverse material. On Saturday I received back from him a F3 generation sample of his work with Astronomy Domine (which will be crossed back to my parent stock). Immediately I noticed many differences, for one was kernel size which could be explained away by my low fertility trials with A.D. this year (clay soil, amended only with cow manure). However a secondary difference immediately made itself notable in the color of the kernels themselves, while my selection seems to be leaning to darker, more vivid traits, Johno's selection seems to be towards a more traditional range of antique/natural and even slightly pastel colors. Very cool indeed.

In the picture above you can see the difference for yourself, the corn on the right is my F3 sample while that on the left is John's F3 sample. Things will become really interesting from here, I hold on to hope that others who received the seed will also send back small samples. For an expanded look at the family tree of Astronomy check out the blog archives here on the site. I will now have add new Gatersleben and GRIN accessions as well as John's Astronomy Domine Remix to the list for next season. I am a very happy father.


Ottawa Gardener said...

Pretty nifty. I can't decide which I like better, they are both beautiful kernels. I think it is extremely important to work on low fertility grown corn as well as cold and short season. Exciting work.

Bishops Homegrown said...

I agree, low fertility corn will definitely be of high organic and low input interest to gardeners. After this year I'm fairly certain that my strain of Astronomy Domine will be well adapted to most conditions. Johno's sample will be added back to the new mix for planting in spring of '09, encouraging some further back crossing and new crosses between cultivars that may not have yet mixed genes. There is also some new material from both Gatersleben as well as the GRIN system coming in shortly which will also be added to the mix (along with selfing for preservation purposes).

anne said...

fabulous work. I've saved a short, early season corn full of reds oranges and blues for years. Do you have BC successions in there?

Rebsie Fairholm said...

They both look fantastic. I'll be very interested to see how this project evolves. And very excited about growing it myself next year and selecting for the "lousy British climate" edition.

Bishops Homegrown said...

Anne, by BC do you mean Baker Creek? If so then I have amassed most commercially available varieties for this project but am always looking for new material to add to the mix.

Rebsie, we are glad to have you in on the project friend, you might even start a corn growing revolution in Britain regarding sweet corn!