Monday, 23 April 2018

Purple sweet corn seeds in Australia

I bred Immali corn a few years ago in Central West NSW.  It is a coloured sweet corn.  As you can see from the pictures it is purple/pink and white sweet corn.  If mostly dark seeds are planted the cobs are rather dark.  If a mix of white and dark seeds are planted the cobs will be lighter in colour.

Immali corn was bred to be high in anthocyanin (the same cancer fighting antioxidant that is found in blueberries), antioxidant rich, high yielding, sweet corn that is far more nutritious than yellow sweet corn.

Immali corn is a relatively short plant which tillers and is suitable for backyard gardeners and people who like to produce their own food.  I have only grown it organically since I started to breed it and never had pest issues.  This means it is well suited to organic gardeners and permaculture gardens.  It is a stable variety, once you have seeds you can save seed each year and plant it again, meaning that you never have to buy corn seed again.

Immali corn is a stable variety and I sell seeds through my for sale page.  As Immali corn is stable you can save the seeds and grow this year after year.  I sell seeds that are a mix of purple and white sweet corn, most people plant all of them and get some amazing looking cobs.

Purple sweet corn Australia, Immali corn
Immali corn - the first purple sweetcorn bred in Australia
Immali corn, when picked early and 50/50 white/purple seeds are planted it look s like this

Immali corn
Immali corn, I planted mostly dark seeds in this bed to get more coloured seeds in the cobs
Immali corn - purple white sweetcorn
Recently I was told that a certain university in Australia is almost ready to start taste testing on "the first coloured sweet corn bred in Australia".  Their purple sweet corn looks similar to Immali corn, but it does not have any white seeds, and is not yet stable.  It was created by "scientists working with horticulturalists to create corn for the health conscious".  The person who told me knew about my Immali corn and sent me a link to several articles.  Gardening Australia did a story on this and claimed that the university is going to be the first to breed a purple sweet corn in Australia.

You can understand my frustration as I bred and stabilised Immali corn a few years before they even started their breeding.  As far as I am aware immali corn is possibly the first purple sweetcorn bred in Australia.  Admittedly Immali corn is bicolour, meaning white and purple/pink.  But it is still reasonably purple, and is certainly what I would consider to be "coloured sweet corn"!  As you can see the cobs can be rather dark when only dark seeds are planted.  It is easy enough to tell which seeds are purple and which purple seeds carry recessive white genes, so you could remove white from the genepool pretty quickly if you wanted to.

Immali corn is high in antioxidants and is great for the health conscious.  I have already achieved everything that they have set out to produce.  The genes I used makes Immali corn suited to home gardeners, whereas the university is using a different set of genetics so that the corn is best suited to large scale agriculture.

I am certainly not the first in Australia to breed coloured sweet corn.  I am just a backyard breeder, and I have already produced something that the University is only now working towards and claiming that this is new.

I have less money, less resources, less time, less access to germplasm, far less technology, and look what I have created.  It may surprise you to know that many of the best vegetables and berries for home gardeners were originally bred by people like me in their back yards.  Many of the most bland vegetables were bred by universities as their aim is to create something that can be stored longer and be transported further.

I guess you can't fight marketing.

The first purple corn bred in Australia
Purple corn Australia

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