Crop Report 2016 - Part I February 16 2016


by New Ordnance

Friends of the Rocky Mountain Corn Project,
Thank you for the splendid 2015 crop reports that continue to arrive on our doorstep.




I continue to be amazed at the sheer vitality of the Alpine Varietal of Painted Mountain Corn seed. After only one week in our latest germination tests the corn sprouts are two inches long and bursting with tenacious vigor.

Last summer I even discovered corn growing like weeds in the cracks of a concrete driveway where stray kernels had lodged during our shelling episode the previous year. I am tempted to call it “Boulder-Busting Corn” akin to the seed of mountain trees that sprout in boulder cracks and eventually split the boulders as the trees grow to maturity.

Last year we ventured down the mountains to assist friends in planting several modest plots in suburban and urban settings against our better judgement. Our initial misgivings were overcome by the desire to help.

We re-visited some useful lessons about human nature and community gardens. We survived unexpected aerial attacks by crop dusters, had some victories in getting a farmer off glyphosate and tested some new crops with both good and surprisingly sucky results with purple potatoes. The ever-faithful Alpine Painted Mountain Corn adapted to some bizarre conditions and still produced beautiful ears.

We suffered close encounters with Big Ag operations and it wasn’t pretty. Fortunately, we kept a foothold back in the Mountain Redoubt where we could grow real food far away from some of the more obscene flat land aberrations.

Before we get into the lurid details of the crop duster attacks, let’s hear some of your stories that are more – not "Valentine" maudlin but you know – cheery – the kind of reports that sustain us through the deep winter’s night and allow us to pop up again on the threshold of Spring.

Note: The following reports have been edited for brevity and to protect customer anonymity.

Dear friends,
I received the seed corn yesterday, looking like a bag of rare jewels.
Our ground is almost warm enough, so they will be planted in a few days. thank you very much for keeping this corn and making it available
best wishes
Thanks for the quick response!...
I have read as much as I could find about Dave Christensen and how he bred the corn. After seeing the different 'strains' of PM being sold that has been grown in much warmer climates than it was bred for, I was very happy to see your site. I am growing some PM now, but I suspect it has crossed with Golden Bantam sweet corn. I found a container of corn stored on the cob that my deceased mother grew ten years ago... I have a dual power Retsel mill, so I ground some of the corn and made cornbread. Best I ever ate...

Just a point of interest, her corn was stored with a sachet of Artemisa in a metal six gallon lidded can in an enclosed un-heated non insulated porch. I sprouted some before planting and had nearly 100% germination!  Never knew corn seed would store that well.

Thanks again

I read with interest your write up on painted mountain corn.
As a child, fresh corn boiled in saIt water was something we enjoyed in India. Going to the fields, harvesting the corn, and pealing the covering was an exciting part of the whole experience. Recently, when I saw fresh corn in the shops, I bought some for my son to taste boiled corn. But the corn was so sweet, it tasted awful. Hence I looked up corn that we can grow in cold climates, that are not necessarily sweet and came by your variety.
I am writing to you to find out the answers to two questions.
The first is whether your variety of corn is sweet or does it taste like corn should?
The second question is whether it will grow in Scotland. I have a small allotment at...[redacted]...where I hope to grow it next year...
I hope the answers to both questions will be positive. Then comes the crucial question: where can I get some seeds to plant?  Will you be able to post it to Scotland?
Hoping to hear from you.
Our Alpine varietal of Painted Mountain Corn is not sweet.
Rather, it produces higher protein than other corn and has more of a hearty taste when boiled as you described when in the "milk" or soft kernel stage. When allowed to dry the corn is easily ground into a fine flour which can be used to make corn bread in the oven, pan cakes on the stove top or boiled to make a porridge.
I cannot guarantee how Painted Mountain will do south of Edinburgh but it has remarkable adaptability. If you save the best ears for seed to plant in successive years it should adapt to the local environment with increasing yields each year. This has been demonstrated in harsh climates from Siberia to North Korea. It will germinate and vigorously sprout at much lower soil temperatures than any other corn.
It does best in well-drained soil and does not like perpetually "wet feet" after it is established. Lower air temperatures during the Scottish spring and summer should not be a problem if it can get enough sun.
Hope this answers your concerns. Let us know if you have other questions.
Please see the information below for shipping information to Scotland.
Best regards,
New Ordnance and the Rocky Mountain Corn family

I am curious how my output compares to other places? I seem to have a lot of small cobs. Is that normal? Are these color combinations typical?
I planted Alaskan sweet corn at the same time, which is supposed to be a 45 day corn. With the hot dry wind drying out the top 1-2" of heavy clay soil in between waterings and that wicking the moisture out of my so-called grow thru pots making it hard for root penetration, the 45 -day corn silked out at the same time as my painted corn...
The sweet corn was down wind, but we got some odd-wind days and I am afraid I have some cross-pollinization with some cobs. From this picture, can you give advise on what to sort out of my seed stock for next year? Also, do you have recommendations for larger cobs and higher output ? Planning to use straw for wind shield and avoiding "grow-thru" pots next year.

This season is the 2nd year we have grown the corn up in central Montana elevation...[just over 4,200 feet]...
The corn has done very well with a small amount of watering and no added fertilizer. The last 2 summers have been iffy on growing season rain and erratic temperatures. I think in a normal rain year , if that even exists, it would grow without additional irrigation. We have clay/silt soil that holds the water very well for long periods between rains.
I have tried presoaking, pre-sprouting and just dropping the seeds in the ground all methods work with near 100% germination and growth. Each stalk grew a nice ear... Each year I have expanded the size of the corn crop. This year 40 ft. by 20ft.
The corn is stunning and we get complements when we help decorate the community center for fall dinners. It makes the best corn bread I have ever eaten and has a nutty flavor that you never find in regular corn meal. Easily ground in a blender without the need of a heavy duty grinder.
It truly is an exceptional corn and I applaud you for developing this seed.
P.S. I had some left over pre-sprouted corn and tried it. The roots were as sweet as candy.



New Ordinance, Thank you for the prompt deliver of the seed. The RMCP corn is intriguing and exactly what I had hoped to find for various reasons...
I'm a bit south of you at ~7300' in...[redacted]...Colorado...
All in all I've probably got a bit milder climate than RMCP with excellent soil, but as you'd know micro-climate will be a big deal. My ~75 acres is about half meadow...divided by scrub oak, piñon and juniper. Much of this is sheltered from the worst of winter...
Also relevant to your efforts, there is no real agriculture in the area. Outside of hay or other forage operations there is no significant agriculture within ~30 miles or more. So no GMO contaminants for corn anyway.
The meadows are all very healthy and mostly sage free... I don't have a lot of water though. I was intrigued to see a quick view of your drip system in the RMCP video...
My project involves progress towards a sustainable, off-grid "farm" with the core based on a year round aquaponic growing setup, supplemented with more conventional agriculture. Along with your corn I've collected...[redacted]...of various heirloom vegetables, herbs, etc. for a CSA share type of program which seems successful...
Your corn is a great addition and will augment my attempt at quinoa and amaranth as well. I will of course keep you advised regarding progress next year.

Hello all,
The harvest went well. 75 ears of 6-8" corn cob and nice multi color kernels.
The easest corn I have ever grown, the color of each kernal has me all happy inside...
Again I want to thank you all for selling a great corn that will grow in Wyoming. I hope to plant MORE next year just so I can open every ear and look at it like a kid at Christmas. Thanks


Thank you so much for the corn you sent me and the truly thoughtful note.
I live at 7200 feet on the Mesa near REDACTED. Difficult to grow here, but last year was amazing. I lost much of the crop (more than half) to rabbits but it was kind of an experiment to see what I could do against all the odds and was pricey, so didn't have resources to do the fence. Still, the corn and squash I did get were beautiful.
This coming season, with a fence, I should have enough corn, beans, and squash for all my yearly needs and perhaps a bit more.
I did do something that's unusual and that I wanted to tell you about. It was (and IS) a Zuni Waffle Garden for the three sisters. Mesa soil is very clay-ey so we have to haul our own soil and water. I thought perhaps the waffles would conserve moisture.
...Friends helped me by digging the 24 waffles, a bit over a foot deep and four feet square, with a foot of walkway in between, and we added in peat moss and manure compost, then sprinkled the recommended amount of sulfur over everything because it was still too alkaline. The corn was Painted Mountain and the squash, Buttercup. Critters got the beans. They'll probably be bolitas and/or anasazis this year.
How did the waffles work? One day last summer my cistern ran out of water. The corn had already gone three days without and it was three more days before the water showed up. Also, temps were in the 90s that week. Bottom line, during almost a week without water at the hottest it ever gets here in the summer, voila!--when I went to pour the water on, the leaves were juuuuust beginning to look a bit wilty. In other words, the waffles work better than I could have possibly imagined if this hadn't happened.
The only further advice I'd offer would be to do some hand pollination. I did get a few sparse ears. It's pretty windy here and didn't think I'd need it. I think it was because the wascally wabbits got so much of it.
It is absolutely impossible to find organic hominy (or at least non-GMO) and I love menudo. Plus, we need wood fires here from September through May sometimes, and this year f'sure, so I just made hominy with the Painted Mountain corn and wood ash.
I cannot believe how well it turned out and so pretty. I'm having menudo for lunch even as we speak. A small amount of this corn (about a quart) makes maybe a gallon of hominy.

Thank you Northern New Mexico!

Friends, New Ordnance here again. We are going to pause at this juncture to post Part 1 of the Crop Report.

We are headed out early tomorrow morning on a little snow-shoe excursion in the interest of sanity maintenance during this cabin-fever season. Our excuse of course is in the interest of continuing our on-going ultralight equipment tests.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 and "The Attack of the Crop Dusters."

We also reveal for the first time what happened during the fall feeding-frenzy when night-marauding bears discovered one of our gardens.

"Gee, we thought they were only Black Bears."

The infra-red camera showed them laughing at our deer fence as they strolled right through it and we discovered the headline of our next feature:

Walks Through Deer-Fence

Continued next week...


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