Ohio Cultivator, 4(12):91 (June 15, 1848)
Mexican Rice Corn
Robert & George Champley
GENTS: In accordance with the wishes of our State Agricultural Society, as put forth in their late "Circular," I present you the following; believing that every member is under an obligation to contribute his mite, in some form or other.
The "Mexican rice corn," presented to your society, was raised from the product of a single seed; it being the only one which germinated out of several which we planted in 1846. These were presented to us by Dr. I. S. Drake of this place, to try as an "experiment.” The product of that one seed was one large stock with two heads or bunches of ripe grain, and two suckers, one of which bore a head, but it did not fully mature. This year we put in the quantity as described in the note to the society at the fair; and its results. We have not as yet tried it as meal, or flour, the smell and taste partaking somewhat of the nature of both; one of the writers of this, recollects particularly of having eaten cakes made of it in 1834, at the hacienda of La Rosario, near Jonala on the Pacific—they were remarkable for their whiteness—the taste is amongst the forgotten items, so many years having since gone by. The difference in growth between here and that country is a "pigmy to a giant." Those presented to you were amongst the tallest we had, while the products of the Tierra Caliente of the Pacific, were from 16 to 20 feet high, and thick in proportion. This is the case with many other plants which grow with us; there they attain the magnitude of trees, still retaining their generic characteristics. The Palma Christa, or castor oil plant, for instance, attains a growth so large as to shelter horses end cattle from the heat of the sun. The canes or bamboo family also attain a most astonishing growth; they grow near San Pedro, on the isthmus of Tehuantepeque, as large at the base as a flour barrel! rising from 100 to 150 feet in height, and straight as an arrow.
I have digressed merely to show what nature does where "eternal summer reigns." To resume: the "rice corn" has had a trial this season under very unfavorable circumstances! A very cool summer, with little attention while growing. A large portion of the corn crop in this section of the country was seriously injured by the very severe frosts in the early part of September. It seemed to withstand their influence uninjured! The fact of its having done this, suggests another enquiry, and that is one of the very greatest importance; to wit: Can it become an article of cultivation co-extensive with our country, and become another large "item" to feed the furnishing millions of the eastern world? This is the highest and most glorious consideration; a consideration of interest as well as duty. I know not what order or family to class it amongst; it certainly is not a "cereal" product as it cannot be placed with the grasses. Not having any botanical works by me, it must be left to those versed in that science to class it where it belongs. The reason why we call it "Mexican" is, it was there we saw it in all its beauty and magnitude; it was there it was first eaten by one of us, and its delicate whiteness admired, and we having been the first to try it on a miniature scale, with a view of making it a valuable addition to the agricultural products of our country, gives us a right to furnish it a name.
That each member of the society will do his best in his experimental cultivation thereof, taking minutes, remarks as to soil, situation, time of planting, progressive growth, &c., so that each may make his report to the society at its next annual fair.
CybeRose Note: This might be a grain amaranth.