Maize had already advanced from its teosinte origin in central Mexico 9000 years ago. About 700 years previous to the 1620 event in Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, people had moved, and adapted corn across the North American continent. As it was moved, different types resulting from mutations and diversity encouraged by the ease of cross pollination in this new species with separation of male and female flowers, more than only kernel pigmentation was selected.
Flint corns with hard, somewhat water repellant, pericarp and aleurone outer layers were probably favored by the Wampanoag tribe in Eastern Massachusetts. This seed not only did not germinate on the ear during fall rains but also maintained seed germination quality during cold wet winters.
The Wampanoag apparently had the custom of planting 5 seeds per hill, along with a herring fish in each hill. After the corn emerged, bean and melon seeds were also planted in the hill. Beans adding to the nitrogen supply for the corn and the melons being a sweet extra treat. The ladies did the farming and that probably included the selection of the seed to save for the next season. They probably also ground the corn seed into a fine flour called nokehig.
This event and the many other interactions between people of the new and old world resulted in the movement of corn around the globe. Genetic diversity further enhanced by the unique maize biology allowing selection of adapted varieties for northern Europe and tropical Africa.
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About Corn Journal
The purpose of this blog is to share perspectives of the biology of corn, its seed and diseases in a mix of technical and not so technical terms with all who are interested in this major crop. With more technical references to any of the topics easily available on the web with a search of key words, the blog will rarely cite references but will attempt to be accurate. Comments are welcome but will be screened before publishing. Comments and questions directed to the author by emails are encouraged.