Quoted by A. D. Shamel in The Art of Seed Selection and Breeding. USDA Yearbook of Agriculture. pp. 231-232 (1907)
The Reid's Yellow Dent variety of corn was originated by Mr. James L. Reid, at Delevan, Tazewell County, Ill. Mr. Reid was one of the pioneer settlers of Illinois who raised a comparatively small acreage of corn, doing most of the work with his own hands, but was a successful corn grower. He spent much of his time in the study of the crop and the selection of the seed. The result was that he produced a variety of corn (Pl. XXI, fig. 2) that has been found to yield more money value to the acre under the conditions to which it is adapted than the unselected varieties. This fact has led to its wide distribution; and because it has made corn growing more profitable than heretofore, it has been an object lesson that has served to inspire further efforts along this line by many other corn growers. Its history can not be presented better than in Mr. Reid's own words to the writer:
Origin of Reid’s Yellow Dent
James L. Reid
In 1846, when my father, Robert Reid, moved from Ohio to Delevan Prairie, he brought, with other goods, his seed corn. This corn was known in Brown County, Ohio, as the Gordon Hopkins corn. It was not a yellow corn, but reddish or flesh colored, which gave to the shelled corn the appearance of being highly mixed.
It was quite late in the spring of 1846 when my father arrived in Delevan. Uncle Daniel Reid, who had settled here some years previous, had the ground prepared for corn and the field was at once planted. The crop was good but imperfectly ripened. The best of it was selected for next year's seed, but being immature the stand of corn for the crop of 1847 was very poor and had to be replanted. This was done by putting in the missing hills with a hoe and using for that purpose a small corn that was grown in the neighborhood at the time, known as the Little Yellow corn. I am unable to give anything of the history of this variety; but what I call Reid's Yellow Dent has been bred from the result of that cross, by selection, to what it is to-day—an almost pure yellow corn of medium size and medium early in maturing. The ears carry their size fairly well, have a solid deep kernel that grows very compact on the cob, and will shell about 86 per cent of grain after it is thoroughly dry.
It has always been my plan to select my seed at husking time, as then a better selection of ears can be made than could be done previously. In caring for the seed during the winter I find that the important thing is to have the seed dry in the fall, then keep it dry during the winter, and there will be no cause for complaint of a poor stand of corn at planting time.
|Plate XXI, Fig. 2.—Ten ears of Reid's Yellow Dent corn, showing the result of fifty years of continued selection of seed in the development of uniformity in the size and shape of ears and kernels, the filling out of tips and butts, the regularity of indentation, and the desired evenness in the rows of kernels.|
A study of the history of many other important varieties of dent corn, such as the Boone County White, Leaming, and Silvermine; of varieties of sweet corn, such as Crosby, Evergreen, and Country Gentleman, and the valuable and widely grown varieties of all classes of corn shows that the originators were men, like Mr. Reid, who were practical corn growers, having a natural ability for breeding work, and their judgment, gained by long experience with the plants, enabled them to pick out, year after year, the ideal type of seed ears.