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For the last two years I've tried to grow a variety of corn called Floriani Red. It got rave reviews a few years ago in Mother Earth News, in an article claiming that it had a protein value of 20 percent. I've tried for the last two years to grow this variety with a whole lot of bad luck. First off, the seed is very high, I assume due to the hype created by the article. I paid an average of between 15 and 30 dollars a pound with some sellers limiting the amount any one person could buy. The first year I planted a quarter acre. I got a good stand, but just as it was tassling, a flood washed the pollen away and no ears were pollinated. Still, my mules loved the fodder and ate it into the ground. This past year, I tried again. I had a great stand and I managed to get the crop to the milk stage before the deer and coons found it. I got one ear off an acre. I had bragged up the corn on the basis of the article and several of my Amish friends took an interest. One bought a packet of seed, planted a few rows in his yard for seed, and got a good stand, saving about a bushel of seed from his little patch. I was telling him my tales of woe one day and he said, "wouldn't be funny if you and I go through all this trouble and find out that this corn ain't what it's supposed to be!?" I laughed, a wee bit nervously; then I had an idea. I begged two ears from my friend and took them to the extension office. They mailed them to New York, to the Dairy One feed labs. Today I got the results; 10 percent crude protein with 9.6 available protein. It turns out the last laugh was on me, but I have to tell my Amish buddy, no, it wasn't funny to find out that this variety is not all it's cracked up to be. I'm gonna have a go at Reid's Yellow Dent, and see how they compare. The moral of the story, don't believe everything you read.

BrianL says 2017-02-11 13:32:24 (CST)

Jerry, interesting to hear you say all this. I've thought about growing Floriani as an experiment but just couldn't justify the seed cost. What I do know is, Mother Earth News is not correct on their protein analysis.

My opinion is, the only good reason to grow flint corn (like Floriani) is that you can't grow dent. Flint has a much shorter development cycle and it's been bred to be happiest in colder, wetter climate like New England (where it's cousin, Abenaki, comes from) so it's not totally at home in hot, humid Midwest climate with our long (and getting longer thanks to climate change) growing season. Dent corns largely developed here in the Midwest in the 19th century and a variety like Reid's (which was first bred here in Illinois) is the progenitor of most modern varieties. (There are countless regional offshoots but they're still all Zea mays.)

Not to sound too dogmatic, but dents will have better yield and are easier to grind than the rock-hard flints. Noting there is a slight flavor profile difference (flints tend to have slight mineral overtones whereas dents are more "corny" in taste) the "best tasting" ground corn there is would be whatever is freshly ground. Cornmeal loses flavor and nutrients the longer it sits around.

So in summary, you'll be happier with Reid's and yes, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Mike Rock says 2017-02-11 18:44:13 (CST)

Jerry and Brian,
You nailed that one to the barn wall! Fifty pounds of seed went pretty much to stalks, mushy ears and some lodging. I split the seed with my Amish butcher friend and we had the same results. What few good ears we got smelled fine when ground and tasted okay. Certainly not the Second Coming of Corn......... kind of like showing up late and disoriented. We're in southwest Wisconsin in the hills and have good corn ground. My Reid's and Wapsie Valley turned out fine as usual.

God bless.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2017-02-13 04:53:18 (CST)

Brian, I appreciate your response. I've been putting the manure to the ground to get ready for corn. I plan to turn it this week if this weather holds. We used to raise a white corn called Hickory Cane, when I was a boy. It was sort of a multipurpose corn. We ate it for sweet corn until it got a little older then it was hominy and finally fed to stock and ground for meal. It always did well for us back then. It has big long ears and tall stalks. We shocked the fodder for feed. I may try to put a little patch of this out on one of my creek bottoms and then compare it with the Yellow Dent and see which does best for me. Mike, my Amish neighbor had the same feelings. He wasn't real impressed with his corn that he got from the Floriani. The ears were kinda small, not nubbins, but small. He said some of his lodged too. He was wondering about crossing it, thinking he could maybe keep it for the protein, but now I think he'll just stick with either Wapsie or Reid's Yellow Dent.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

BrianL says 2017-02-16 18:17:05 (CST)

There are other varieties of dent that were bred in different regions that are still available as seed (i.e. Trucker's Favorite from the South) although I don't know how geographically specific they are for growing conditions, genetically speaking. Reid's is the most popular OP corn around so I figure there must be a good reason. Maybe Floriani just grows better in the Po Valley due to higher mineral levels in the soil?

Now as for growing corn, because we're smack dab in the middle of Big Ag country, I think our small plot becomes the catch crop for every corn earworm in the county.

2 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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