STILL looking for southern flint corns....

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by kenuchelover, Nov 18, 2005.

  1. kenuchelover

    kenuchelover Well-Known Member

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    I'm still looking for any old southern FLINT corns.

    I've had no luck whatsoever.... located two DENT corns that were inaccurately described as flint corns (one by a gristmill operator, the other by a state historical farm, BOTH of whom you'd think would know better).... one of which was a 180+ year old northern Georgia heirloom, but not what I was looking for.

    Anybody have any ideas?

    USDA doesn't have any, seed companies & museums & historical farms & surviving gristmills I've contacted don't know of any.

    Unless some moonshiners kept 'em going, or a nonagenarian farmer somewhere still has one, it's starting to look like I'm ought of luck..... and a piece of our history (& self sufficiency) is gone.
     
  2. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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  3. kenuchelover

    kenuchelover Well-Known Member

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    No they aren't. Of those "open pollinated sweet corns", one is a dent (shoepeg type) used as a green corn, the others are regular sweet corns (shriveled kernal when dry, etc). Of the pop corns, all are popcorns rather than flints (mostly rice pops at that) & the oldest is probably no older than 150-200 years or so (strawberry popcorn, resulting from an amorphous crossing of Mexican popcorns & various early 19th century White American farmer popcorns). Most of 'em, like the "Chocolate Cherry" and the "Cherokee Long Ear", are NEW..... less than 10 years old as varieties.

    What I'm looking for are the genuine old southern flint corns. Before Whites showed up, three general types existed: one a many rowed Caribbean flint of which I know of ONE surviving example among the Coushatta Indians, one an 8-rowed flint analogous to the "northern flint" corn found up in the NE but somewhat later season, and one a extra-early (6-8 wks to dry ears) dwarf 8-rowed flint analogous to Canadian corns like Gaspe flint. After Whites came in and settled, those flints mostly died out (replaced by dents), but white or yellow flints (mostly descended from the first two catagories PLUS often some deliberate admixture with regular northern flint corn) were still moderately grown by Whites for hominy use as recently as the 1930's.

    I've run into lots of literary references, and lots of people who saw them grown as recently as 30-40 years ago.... but nothing still being grown today.
     
  4. Shahbazin

    Shahbazin Well-Known Member

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    Have you tried Sandhill Preservation? http://www.sandhillpreservation.com/
    They sell a number of OP corns described as flints. I have some nice corn I tried this year (from them) called Osage Red, it's a very attractive purplish flint corn. Haven't ground any into meal yet, just harvested it a few weeks ago, but it grew & thrived when planted very late (July) during intense heat, & survived a lot of wind & drought. I saved back a few ears for seed, if you'd like to try it.
     
  5. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    For those of us who think corn is basically corn... tell us the advantages of flint vs. dent vs. pod vs. popcorn vs... whatever else.
     
  6. kenuchelover

    kenuchelover Well-Known Member

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    I know of them already, Glenn Drowns is an old friend of mine from the SSE.

    Osage Red is actually more a flour corn, albeit with a thin flinty layer surrounding the floury starch. I have it, but thanks for the offer.

    How much did it tiller for you? Quapaw Red is supposed to be virtually identical, and I've gotten up to 12 tillers on some plants with it. (eh, average probably around 5-6 tillers per plant). One similar (but all blue-black seeded) Delaware Indian corn I have gets up to 15 tillers per plant.
     
  7. kenuchelover

    kenuchelover Well-Known Member

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    Flint corn is the absolute best for making hominy or grits. It (and the harder dents) make good cornmeal FOR THOSE WHO LIKE COARSELY GROUND MEAL that makes crunchy cornbread.... but is a bit hard to grind Good for corn on the cob, but remains sweet & tender a shorter time (both on the plant, and especially once you've picked it) than "sweet corn" does. Northern flints (especially most of the 8-10 rowed types) germinate GREAT in cooler soil, and all flints tend to be more bug resistant during the latter stages of ear maturation (seeds harden more than with flour, sweet, or dent corn, so things like corn earworm have harder going).

    Flour corn makes the BEST cornmeal in my opinion (grinds to wheat flour consistancy or close to it depending on the variety, makes cornbread that is very fine textured & smooth). Like flint corn, it makes good corn on the cob, but again must be harvested during a narrower window and eaten faster after picking than real "sweet corn".... note that the strongly colored flour corns were reputed by many tribes to be the BEST tasting corn on the cob. It also makes great parched corn.... you toast the kernals in a hot skillet, they brown & suddenly expand "just a little bit", makes a nice snack that keeps well.

    Note-- toasted cornmeal (AKA pinole) was used throughout much of the Americas as high grade travel rations (almost everywhere than pemmican wasn't used) often mixed with a small bit of some type of sweetener (honey, mesquite sugar, maple sugar, etc).... a man could travel all day on less than a handful of it, a few spoonfuls mixed with water would expand to fill a hungry stomach & revive a tired traveler dramatically, allowing him to continue on. The world's best long distance runners were American Indians from tribes like the Tarahumara that carried this as their rations (Would you believe a 55 year old GRANDFATHER winning a 100 MILE LONG race up & down mountains up in Colorado, beating literally hundreds of highly trained athletes from all over the world? See http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cach...ma.pdf+Tarahumara+leadville+grandfather&hl=en And a half century prior to that, a world competition "sequential marathon" across the entire United States was won hands down by a Cherokee Indian who attributed his win to his mother's cornbread! Snicker... my kids love blue cornbread.... and when my son was only two, I set him running around a table while I counted aloud as a ruse to spare his frazzled parents.... he ran around it TWO HUNDRED TIMES at high speed without stopping before I called his race to a halt! ANY time I serve them homemade cornbread, it's a given that both kids will have PLENTY of energy for the rest of the day).

    (The earliest maturation corns are certain flints & flours, the extremes of this type reach the dry ear stage in just 6-8 weeks from planting, albeit with lower yields. Others are "merely" 4-8 weeks earlier than typical dents. Mind you, SOME flints or flours are very long season).

    Dent corn is popular for high yields (although some flints & flours are just as good). You have both soft (floury) and hard (flinty) dents. The really soft ones you can use just like flour corns, the really hard ones you use like a flint, most fall somewhere between those two extremes. These were MOSTLY used for livestock feed, but the predominance of dents also led to some people using them for cornmeal & liking it..... and nowadays, with ALL the hybrid dent corn being grown, the commercial cornmeal almost always comes from that due to being the cheapest source. Dent is usually not that good for corn on the cob. Some hard dents are used to make grits or hominy (Hickory King & Hickory Cane are examples of this).

    Popcorn CAN be used for hominy or grits, or even ground into cornmeal (tastes fine) if you find a masochistic gristmill operator not afraid of smoke & strained noises coming from gearboxes. But it's ideal use is as... popcorn! More bug resistant in storage than other corns, and "cooks" into a tasty and highly nutritious snack with less fuel use than other corns. When popped, can also be chopped up to make breakfast cereals, or made into confections (popcorn balls, cracker jacks, etc).

    Sweetcorn is primary used for corn on the cob. Oddly enough, most Indian tribes didn't like it that much (the high sugar & high surface area due to wrinkling seeds did NOT germinate well in moist or cool soils, and many varieties tasted too "gummy" for Indian tastes). They often used their flint or flour corn varieties when wanting corn on the cob, and restricted their sweet corn (if any) utlization as a sweetener (cut kernals open at peak of sweetness, squeezed out contents, and dried that for later use). Oh, Indian tribes down in MesoAmerica & Andean South America ALSO used their sweet corns to make an alcoholic beverage called chicha. You CAN make chicha with other corns, but sweet corn gave it a higher alcohol content.

    Pod corn is a curio, little more. It can have ANY of the above seed types, differing only in that each individual seed is enclosed in a papery husk of it's own (making it a b*tch to process, or actually eat in any way).

    Aside from this, corn varies along any trait you can imagine. Ear size ranges from 2" to over 20" long, from 8 rows (dries down fast, tend to have larger seeds) of kernals to over 30 rows. From plants just 30" tall to plants OVER TWENTY FEET TALL. (dried stalks of the latter were used for fenceposts in certain desert regions, or used in home construction). From 6 weeks maturation, to more like 9 months. From one tiller per planted seed, to several dozen. The grain comes in ALL colors (red, blue, black, grey, white, yellow, orange, red, BROWN, GREEN, tan, purple, rose, plum, tc.), some seeds are striped, speckled, or have a large dot of a different color on the top of each seed (like a purple or blue dot on a white or yellow seed, or a white or yellow dot on a blue or purple seed). Some types are resistant to one disease or insect pest, some to another. Some tolerates saline soil, some doesn't. Some are drought resistant, others prefer constant rain.

    Oh, with the exception of "red" corn types where the red color is due to the pericarp (the crinkly bit you see adhering to popcorn after it's popped) rather than to pigment in the aleurone layer (an example of aleurone pigment is that like you see in blue corns), colored corns (blue, black, green, purple, rose, etc) have higher mineral & slightly higher vitamin content.

    Old Indian corns have MUCH higher protein levels than modern corns, old heirloom "white settler" corns (the older the better) have intermediate levels of protein. Most modern field corn hybrids have abysmal levels of protein.

    Bluntly, Indians bred corn for ALL kinds of specialty use, ranging from doing well in certain microclimates & soils, to use as certain specific food items, "industrial uses" (dye corns, corn husk corns, "corn cob mineral salt", "timber" stalks, corn oil, corn syrup, etc, etc), to just about anything they could imagine. We've lost the majority of the varieties present back when Columbus landed.... but what is left is STILL awe inspiring.
     
  8. blufford

    blufford Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I found this auction on ebay. I don't know if this is one of the southern varieties or not.
    Ornamental Corn, Open-Pollinated Flint - 40 Seeds (#7719560847)
     
  9. kenuchelover

    kenuchelover Well-Known Member

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    No, this is a NORTHERN flint corn from up in eastern Canada,

    No, these are all Caribbean flints (TROPICAL types), most of them strains never grown in the U.S..... although a few would have been introduced on a limited scale during the 19th or 20 century.

    Nope, these are a mixed bag.... many are NORTHERN flints, some are dent corns with partial northern flint admixture, or sweet corns with partial northern flint ancestry, a few are caribbean or South American corns.... sometimes types introduced into Europe from those regions in prior centuries.

    I've already searched ARS-GRIN extensively, as well as contacted them direct for stuff that isn't listed or else is poorly described. The have some Caribbean flints introduced into the U.S. within the last 300 years, they have some NORTHERN flints moved south by White farmers within the last 200 years, and they have exactly ONE "possible" Southern flint.... the problem being that it was collected OUTSIDE the South & had no information attached, they're just guessing that it "might" be a Southern flint based on low row number...... & on it's relatively late maturation compared to Northern flints. (But it could ALSO be a cross between Northern flint and Southern DENT corns, the latter introduced from Mexico by the Spanish & English..... with the cross then selected for a pure northern flint appearance but having retained a late maturity from Mexico).

    Thanks anyway.
     
  10. kenuchelover

    kenuchelover Well-Known Member

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    No, it's a modern ornamental corn of very recent origin... might even be a hybrid (many are), and from the photo might even be a popcorn rather than a flint.... If it IS a flint, the appearance says it's a mix of northern flint & caribbean flint corn ancestry.
     
  11. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    http://www.littlepinecrafts.com/

    i saw many examples of old corn here but have read too much of the above to remember any. are these old?

    be sure to hit the tiny "browse products" button. then there is another link to the seeds.
     
  12. kenuchelover

    kenuchelover Well-Known Member

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    I'm familiar with this place, although I've not ordered anything.

    The corns are ALL old (pre-Columbian varieties), mostly northern flints from up near Canada plus a Mexican/Southwestern popcorn, a Southestern flour corn, and one northeastern flour corn that is probably of SE origin (depending on which strain they've got, it could be either originally Tuscarora as they say.... OR of Delaware or even Cherokee flour corn origin. There's been some confusion & mixing on the 6 Nations Reserve during the last century).

    The other stuff they've got is all or mostly old tribal stuff as well, mostly picked up from Native Seeds/Search & the Seed Saver's Exchange, from the sound of them.

    So while this isn't what I'm looking for (I want flints native to the Old South, AKA the SE United States), these ARE excellent varieties albeit all pretty pricey.