Selecting Seed Corn

If a farmer would raise good crops he must, as already stated, select

good seed. Many of the farmer's disappointments in the quantity and

quality of his crops--disappointments often thought to come from other

causes--are the result of planting poor seed. Seeds not fully ripened,

if they grow at all, produce imperfect plants. Good seed, therefore, is

the first thing necessary for a good crop. The seed of perfect plants

only should be saved.

By wise and persistent selection, made in the field before the crop is

fully matured, corn can be improved in size and made to mature earlier.

Gather ears only from the most productive plants and save only the

largest and best kernels.

You have no doubt seen the common American blackbirds that usually

migrate and feed in such large numbers. They all look alike in every

way. Now, has it ever occurred to you to ask why all blackbirds are

black? The blackbirds are black simply because their parents are black.

Now in the same way that the young blackbirds resemble their parents,

corn will resemble its parent stock. How many ears of corn do you find

on a stalk? One, two, sometimes three or four. You find two ears of corn

on a stalk because it is the nature of that particular stalk to produce

two ears. In the same way the nature of some stalks is to produce but

one ear, while it is the nature of others sometimes to produce two or


This resemblance of offspring to parent is known to scientists as

heredity, or as "like producing like."

Some Southern corn-breeders take advantage of this law to improve their

corn crop. If a stalk can be made to produce two ears of corn just as

large as the single ear that most stalks bear, we shall get twice as

much corn from a field in which the "two-eared" variety is planted. In

the North and West the best varieties of corn have been selected to make

but one ear to the stalk. It is generally believed that this is the best

practice for the shorter growing seasons of the colder states.

These facts ought to be very helpful to us next year when our fathers

are planting corn. We should get them to plant seed secured only from

stalks that produced the most corn, whether the stalk had two or more

ears or only one. If we follow this plan year by year, each acre of land

will be made to produce more kernels and hence a larger crop of corn,

and yet no more work will be required to raise the crop.

In addition to enlarging the yield of corn, you can, by proper selection

of the best and most productive plants in the field, grow a new variety

of seed corn. To do this you need only take the largest and best

kernels from stalks bearing two ears; plant these, and at the next

harvest again save the best kernels from stalks bearing the best ears.

If you keep up this practice with great care for several years, you will

get a vigorous, fruitful variety that will command a high price for



Boone County white corn on left, and original type, from which it

was developed by selection, on right]

Every school boy and girl can make this experiment at leisure. From

your own field get two ears of corn, one from a stalk bearing only

one ear and the other from a stalk bearing two well-grown ears.

Plant the grains from one ear in one plat, and the grains from the

other in a plat of equal size. Use for both the same soil and the

same fertilizer. Cultivate both plats in the same way. When the

crop is ready to harvest, husk the corn, count the ears, and weigh

the corn. Then write a short essay on your work and on the results

and get your teacher to correct the story for your home paper.

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