Dry Farmed Culinary Corn Project

Corn panel
Adapting diverse, culinary corn varieties for dry farming in the Pacific Northwest

Corn was not historically grown in the Pacific Northwest, which presents a challenge and opportunity for adapting corn varieties to thrive in the region, with its characteristic arid summers with long, hot days and cool nights. This project works with small, organic producers in the region to breed northern-adapted heirloom corn varieties for improved dry-farming performance as well as culinary qualities, particularly those most suitable for nixtamalization, the cooking process that transforms corn kernels to produce hominy and masa dough for tortillas and other important staples of Indigenous and Latinx cuisines. Using the rapid breeding process of recurrent selection, we are improving heirloom corn varieties for use in organic, dry farmed systems, while also maintaining them as genetically-diverse, open-pollinated and in the public domain. So far, we have made dry-farmed selections of Open Oak Party Mix dent corn, Oaxacan Green dent corn, and Dakota Black popcorn varieties. We are also engaged with growers and tortillerias to trial and breed additional varieties to increase local corn diversity in the Pacific Northwest. For more information contact nebertl@oregonstate.edu

Past Reports and Presentations

2021 Variety trial and breeding evaluations of Oaxacan Green and Dakota Black Popcorn 

Summary: We trialed three open-pollinated corn varieties with participating growers in Oregon and Washington, and evaluated breeding families of Oaxacan Green and Dakota Black popcorn in dry farmed conditions, through the heat dome of 2021. Project was funded by USDA Western SARE Professional and Producer Grant.

Handout summarizing the season.

2020: Open Oak Party Mix Breeding evaluations and masa corn variety trials

Summary: With the financial support of the Agricultural Research Foundation (ARF), we are advanced a dry farmed field corn breeding project involving the genetically diverse, Open Oak Party Mix culinary dent corn variety (Adaptive Seeds, Brownsville, OR). Additionally, we collaborated with the Northern Organic Variety Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC), in which we assessed a dozen corn varieties for dry farming performance and culinary quality for nixtamalization into hominy/posole and masa. 

Field evaluation virtual field tourhandout & recorded Presentation

Masa culinary assessment

2016 - 2018 Dry Farming Collaborative Variety Trial Report