51st Annual Report, Indiana State Board of Agriculture 43:539
DEVELOPMENT OF CORN BREEDING
A D Shamel
Illinois Experimental Station
Previous to 1897 little was done in the way of systematically breeding corn. Some few men early in the past century realized the far-reaching importance from well bred seed and began crude attempts at improving their strains of corn. One of these men, J. S. Leaming, of Wilmington, Ohio, through selection so changed and improved the type of corn grown on his farm that other farmers began to secure his seed corn for their use. This work was begun, according to his son's account, about 1825, and as a result this type of corn was brought west to Illinois and rapidly became popular with Western corn growers. In Ohio the corn was a tapering, short-eared type with particularly large butts. When the corn was brought west, the ear was lengthened by careful selection, the shape changed from the undesirable tapering to a cylindrical shape, and the enlarged butt bred out of the ears. The improved Leaming bears little or no resemblance to the original Leaming; the smooth kernels have been replaced by rough, deep kernels, and the whole type of the variety has been changed through less than fifteen years selection by Western breeders. The valuable results from such a long period of attention to selection is found in the fact that in the comparative test of varieties at the Illinois Station, since its establishment in 1888, the Leaming variety stands at the head of the list of the many varieties tested in yield per acre. Another pioneer in this work was James Riley, of Thorntown, Indiana. Mr. Riley was a live stock breeder of high standing, and, applying the same principles to the production of corn that he used so successfully in the improvement of his breeds of live stock, developed an improved variety of white corn. He began selecting seed from the ordinary white corn grown in Indiana at that time, and by giving particular attention to the weeding out of barren stalks and other undesirable types in his seed fields succeeded in producing a type of improved corn which he called the Boone County White. This type was determined upon about 1875, and by continued selection from year to year it has been improved, until at the present time it is the most popular variety of white corn grown in Indiana and Illinois. At the Illinois Station the variety out-yielded all other varieties of white corn in the comparative tests.
The fact of the matter is, that careful breeding and selection results in more profitable types of corn. The valuable results from improved breeds of live stock have increased the wealth of the American farmer millions of dollars. The results from improved breeds of corn indicate that we may obtain equally valuable results from highly bred varieties of corn.