The Country Gentleman (August 31, 1918)

That Cobless Corn

About eight years ago Mr. Sconce originated the cobless corn, as it was christened by a newspaper man, and it made a furore at the time. The ears are up to fourteen inches long and every kernel in the twenty rows is encased in a husk. The cob weighs but three per cent of the entire ear and the whole ear is edible by stock, carrying roughage along with the grain.

The cobless variety originated from a small nubbin of corn in which a few kernels had husks, and was evidently a mutation from some kind of primitive corn grown by the Indians. At first it was white. The discoverer has now produced red, blue, yellow and speckled varieties. It makes fine silage.

"I began to breed wheat and oats nine years ago," said Mr. Sconce. "I was able after eight years' work to obtain enough seed to plant eighty acres that produced an average crop of eighty-four and a half bushels to the acre. This was ten bushels better than any other field of oats on the farm.

"Realizing also that the oats harvest comes at the heaviest season of the year I determined to try to produce varieties of oats that would ripen at different periods.

"Following this idea, six years ago I secured seed from eight different sources including agricultural colleges—altogether 102 varieties. Through elimination trials I got this number down last year to twelve varieties, ripening over a period of twenty-one days, all making satisfactory yields. This year the number is cut to ten varieties and enables us to harvest 600 acres of oats with one binder and the regular force of men, whereas with a simultaneously ripening variety it would require at least five binders and five times the force of men and horses.

"Wheat breeding is carried on in a similar manner. In cooperation with the University of Illinois I am now testing new hybrids of fancy wheat strains. We have found that some of the new hybrids are showing much increased yields, as high as fifty-two to fifty-four bushels to the acre."

Mr. Sconce some years ago donated to the University of Illinois a twenty-acre experimental farm adjoining his property, where soil-fertility experiments are being carried on. The owner himself is cooperating with Doctor Spillman of the Farm Management Bureau at Washington with green-manure fertility experiments in rejuvenating worn-out soils.

As chairman of the Red Cross in his district, Mr. Sconce last year originated the patriotic experiment of every farmer's donating one per cent of his corn acreage for the benefit of the Red Cross. In his own case the donation amounted to nine acres, which with an average yield of 80 bushels netted $949.