Called Gem Glass corn, this variation became a sensation on the internet in 2012 when a spike was posted on Facebook. There were those who said that it was all just a Photoshop trick, while others argued that genetics was really responsible for the color gamut.
Shortly thereafter, an Arizona company, called Native Seeds, which sells rare seeds, began to increase its production to meet the high demand that began to emerge. Currently, seeds can still be found in the brand’s online store.
Although it looks special, the story behind the Gem Glass corn is not so remarkable. Reported even in 2012, when the different corn began to draw international attention. It begins with a farmer, named Carl Barnes, today in his 80s, who left his homeland in Oklahoma to explore new Native American roots.
So he began cultivating a variety of corns as a way to reconnect with his heritage. Among these seed varieties, it was possible to identify and isolate the more ancestral types, spread from native American tribes that were reallocated from what is now Oklahoma in 1800.
At the same time, Barnes began selecting, saving and replanting the seeds of some particularly colorful ears. Over time, this action resulted in a rainbow corn. Soon a farmer known to him, Greg Schoen, met Barnes in 1994 for a meeting and got to know the new corn better. Both became friends and, over the years, Schoen received more and more samples of the rainbow corn seed.
In 2005, Schoen began producing color corn in large quantities near Santa Fe, New Mexico, along with other more traditional varieties. However, when mixed, they eventually gave rise to new strains. And with each successive year of planting, corn was produced with more vibrant colors and more vivid patterns.
He then went on to name the corn according to the patterns that came up: “circus colors,” “true rainbow,” “deep blue,” and so on. The Gem Glass model, seen here, was given after the birth of a blue-green and pink-purple version in 2007.
In 2009, the various seed varieties were passed on to an Arizona seed company called Seed Trust, owned by an executive named Bill McDorman, now CEO of Native Seeds, which sells the seeds of Gem Glass online.
Each package – which comes with 50 seeds and can produce up to 150 ears – can be purchased for $ 7.95, and they all come with planting instructions. The corn in question does not adapt to frost, and grows anywhere where the climate is hot and full sun. Therefore, it is recommended that they be planted after the last frost in late spring.
Unlike sweetcorn, the Gem Glass can not be eaten through the spike, being consumed only in the form of flour. In addition, they can still be used to make popcorn (which do not come out colored) and, for obvious reasons, as ornamental pieces.
[ Science Alert ] [Photos: Reproduction / Greg Schoen]
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