Varieties of Corn in Kansas, 37-40 (1921)
Agricultural Experiment Station,
Kansas State Agricultural College, Manhattan, KansasC. C. CUNNINGHAM AND B. S. WILSON

ACCLIMATED VARIETIES BEST

A variety of crop is acclimated when it possesses the ability to thrive in an environment as a result of having been grown in that environment for many generations. Practically all tests show that thoroughly acclimated corn outyields recently introduced corn as a rule, and that the longer corn has been grown in a given locality, the greater its superiority over recently introduced corn.

1Ten Eyck, A. M. Corn. Kan. Agr. Expt. Sta. Bul. 193:429-471. Figs.19.

Kansas-grown seed of seven different varieties was compared with seed of the same varieties introduced from seven other states. These comparisons were made on the Agronomy Farm at Manhattan during the seven-year period, 1903 to 1909 inclusive.1 With but one exception, the seed produced in Kansas outyielded that introduced from other states. For the 40 comparisons that were made the average yield was 6.5 bushels per acre in favor of the Kansas-grown seed.

Similar results were obtained in the variety tests of corn conducted in cooperation with farmers throughout eastern Kansas in which acclimated or home-grown seed of Kansas Sunflower, Boone County White, and Reid Yellow Dent corn were compared with seed of the same variety introduced from other parts of the state. In a majority of the tests the home-grown corn was originally secured from the same source from which the introduced seed was obtained. That is, the introduced and the home-grown seed were of the same strain of corn but the home-grown seed had been locally grown for several years and had thus become more or less acclimated. During the seven-year period, 1911 to 1917, 55 comparisons were made. The results are summarized in Table XII. For every season the home-grown seed outyielded that introduced from 2.5 to 5 bushels per acre.

TABLE XII.—COMPARATIVE YIELDS FROM HOME-GROWN AND FROM INTRODUCED SEED

YEAR (a) Number
of tests
Average yield in bushels per acre
Home-grown
seed
Introduced
seed
Difference in favor
of home-grown seed
1911 7 28.3 23.2 5.1
1912 15 34.4 29.4 5.0
1914 12 29.9 26.4 3.5
1915 8 53.4 49.8 3.6
1916 13 21.3 18.8 2.5
1917 10 36.2 32.9 8.3
Average 65 34.25 30.08 3.8

(a) No data were obtained for 1913 because of drouth

The great difference in favor of the home-grown seed the first two seasons was due to the fact that the average distance which the introduced seed was transferred in those seasons was greater than for the other seasons. The introduced seed used in 1911 and 1912 was grown on the Agronomy Farm at Manhattan and in some cases it was transferred a considerable distance. From 1914 to 1917, inclusive, the corn used in cooperative experiments was secured from several sources; namely, northeastern, southeastern, and central Kansas. Since the seed used in the respective tests was supplied from the nearest source, the average distance which the introduced corn was transferred for these seasons was relatively short. The superiority of home-grown seed was especially evident when the introduced seed was transferred from a congenial environment to one that was less favorable.

These results show that the general opinion among farmers that it is advisable to obtain new seed every few years is an erroneous one. The only time when it is desirable to change seed is when an inferior variety has been grown or where the farmer has made no effort to select the seed properly year after year. In these cases it will pay to secure good seed from a nearby farmer who properly selects his seed, provided the soil conditions on the two farms are similar. If, for some reason, home-grown seed is not good in vitality or quality, better results can be obtained by securing first-class seed grown as near home and under conditions as nearly like those under which it will be planted as possible. Every farmer should select and save his own seed, as the corn which was grown on his farm is likely to be better suited for planting thereon than that grown elsewhere.

IMPORTING SEED CORN

It is sometimes necessary to import seed corn because of crop failures. Results of tests show that under Kansas conditions it is advisable to secure seed from a similar or less congenial environment rather than a more congenial one.

In variety tests conducted at Manhattan it was noted that thoroughly acclimated varieties of corn secured from parts of the state a considerable distance west of Manhattan sometimes outyielded varieties similar in size from the eastern part of the state. For instance, Pride of Saline, which was developed on river bottom land in Russell County and subsequently grown at the Fort Hays Branch Experiment Station at Hays, yielded relatively well in its class; Freed White Dent, another western Kansas variety, proved to be a superior one for its class. Very early varieties developed under semiarid conditions in western Kansas and adjoining states proved to be much superior to equally early varieties from Iowa and other northern states when grown in eastern Kansas.

The environment for corn in western Kansas is not favorable because of cool nights during the spring and hot dry conditions that are likely to prevail during midsummer. Natural selection is very rigid and weak plants are rapidly eliminated. Corn that is grown under these conditions for many years acquires a hardiness and vigor that are rarely developed in varieties produced in a congenial environment. The data presented in Table XIII show the value of these factors as measured by comparing varieties developed in western Kansas with similar varieties developed in more favorable environments.

TABLE XIII.—SEED CORN DEVELOPED IN WESTERN KANSAS COMPARED TO SIMILAR
VARIETIES DEVELOPED IN A MORE FAVORABLE ENVIRONMENT

VARIETY Average yield in bushels per acre
1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919
Freed White Dent 51.1 24.8 55.1 20.7 19.8  
Corn Planter 35.8 12.3 48.5 13.0 10.0  
Difference 15.3 8.5 11.6 7.7 9.8  
Sherrod White Dent     26.2 16.8 21.1 21.6
Colby Bloody Butcher     18.1 19.6 19.6 25.2
Silver King       12.7 13.8 18.2

Freed White Dent was compared with Corn Planter, and Sherrod White Dent and Colby Bloody Butcher with Silver King. Freed White Dent and Corn Planter are similar in size and time required to mature. Seed of Corn Planter was secured each season from the Henry Field Seed Company of Shenandoah, Iowa. Freed White Dent was obtained annually from J. K. Freed of Scott City, Kan. Silver King was secured every year from southern Wisconsin while Sherrod White Dent and Colby Bloody Butcher were obtained from Sherman and Thomas Counties, respectively, in western Kansas. The yields are averages for five or six tests conducted each year in Riley, Allen, Butler, Cowley, Dickinson, and Reno Counties. In both comparisons the hardy western Kansas varieties produced marked increases in yield.

Similar results were secured in a comparison of Reid Yellow Dent and Pride of Saline. The former variety is perhaps the best selected and bred variety in existence. It was developed in Illinois, however, in an environment exceptionally well adapted to corn, while Pride of Saline is a product of western Kansas. The Reid Yellow Dent used in these tests had been grown in eastern Kansas for seven or eight years and was therefore acclimated to a considerable extent. The Pride of Saline corn used was grown in central Kansas each season. Two comparisons were made—one in a group of counties, including Marshall, Nemaha, Brown, and Doniphan in northeastern Kansas, the most favorable corn-growing section in the state; the other in Allen and Wilson Counties in southeastern Kansas where soil and climate are less congenial. The results are given in Table XIV. The yields are averages of 42 tests of which four or more were conducted in each section for the respective seasons.

TABLE XIV.—COMPARATIVE YIELDS OF A HARDY VARIETY AND A NONHARDY VARIETY
OF CORN BOTH GROWN UNDER CONGENIAL AND UNDER NON-CONGENIAL CONDITIONS

LOCATION OF EXPERIMENTS Average yield in bushels per acre
1914 1915 1916 1917
Pride
of
Saline
Reid Yellow Dent Pride
of
Saline
Reid Yellow Dent Pride
of
Saline
Reid Yellow Dent Pride
of
Saline
Reid Yellow Dent
Northeastern Kansas 29.0 26.2 64.1 61.6 44.4 37.9 37.9 34.0
Southeastern Kansas 45.8 36.6 45.5 27.4 20.4 13.7 34.0 27.5

Pride of Saline outyielded Reid Yellow Dent every year in both parts of the state. The difference in the relative yields, however, was much greater where the conditions were the least favorable.

These results indicate that a hardy variety which is adapted to adverse conditions may have little if any advantage over a variety that is not hardy, when grown under favorable conditions. On poor soils or under unfavorable climatic conditions, however, the hardy variety will produce much the better yield.