To breed a superior highly adaptive purple foliage corn that can thrive in Colorado (and elsewhere) and has as much anthocyanins as possible while still maintaining large good cob genetics and stalks and does not contain any genetic drag as is often found in purple corn varieties. Breeding and selecting a new purple foliage corn for modern climate change is key to having this trait survive in the future. Flint corn is preferred, but waxy corn, pod corn, and flour corns could be used and re-selected into multiple sub-strains.
The first main goals are to breed maize / corn that has lots of purple anthocyanins in the foliage, stems, leaves, cobs, and husks (and possibly in the kernels as well). The second main goals are to eliminate any puny cobs that have an extraneous amount of husks which is common in purple foliage maize. My Colorado adapted landrace already should have these puny cobs eliminated. However it is always good to introduce new genetics periodically. I have a small sample of other purple foliage corn that is from ARS GRIN that should also have good genetics to fold in. I also have some old purple pod corn that i would like grown out that maybe could be mixed in.
As a side note, i have once observed this corn of mine to occasionally have air roots exuding a sappy substance. From modern research we now know these corn types exude a sugary sap to feed nitrogen fixing bacteria. Any of these should be noted and saved separately for a sub-breeding project!
My corn was also originally selected to thrive in extra early Northern Colorado spring plantings on April 1st, much earlier than our last expected frost. When planted with other Indian corn and sweet corn varieties, mine would always survive fine even with early spring snow, while the other corn varieties would die. I have not continued to put this selection pressure on this variety, but i would like to someday. This landrace may still have this unusual cold tolerance ability, which is probably related to the high anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are known to help keep plants alive in cold weather and help provide a small amount of energy much like chlorophyll.
The husks and cobs can be boiled in water to produce a dark anthocyanin water. This may be able to used for natural fabric dying or maize morado like drinks or natural food coloring.
I have been gardening and plant breeding for at least 15 years. I have been breeding / selecting / growing purple foliage Indian corn for most of that same amount of time. My purple corn is even mentioned in the book "Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener by Joseph Tychonievich" on page 40.
Some of my most successful and ambitious projects involve breeding a watermelon landrace for northern Colorado. Experimenting with domestic watermelon x citron-melon hybrids, growing and adapting various teosinte species to colorado, growing teosinte-corn hybrids, breeding red-podded peas, and breeding with domestic x wild tomato crosses.
Since i already have lots of seed for my own highly selected purple foliage corn, but i do not currently have enough room or time to dedicate to it, i figured i would offer it up here on the EFN to those with similar passions and interests. Perhaps together we can accomplish more than what i can accomplish on my own. Other odd projects of mine may follow in the near future.
Are you seeking volunteer growers or other types of volunteers?
Yes, seeking volunteer growers
What will you ask volunteers to do?
Volunteers need to have experience growing corn and be confident that they can grow a crop of corn to maturity. Volunteers do not need to collect data or necessarily hand pollinate (unless they wish to do so). They just need to be excited about this project to the point where it starts to consume them. :) They will need to periodically send decent sized seed samples back. They need to select out any that have genetic drag such as weak puny cobs, but they may need to keep heterozygous plants in the population for awhile when introducing new genetics at least until they can select back out the darkest colored homozygous plants.
Other requirements of volunteers?
Experienced with growing corn / maize. Extreme enthusiasm for high anthocyanin crops.
Can volunteers expect to be able to keep some germplasm (seeds, bulbs, cuttings, spores, etc) at the close of the project?
Yes, of course