Cold tolerance useful for sweet corn improvement may be present in open-pollinated (OP) cultivars. Cold tolerance in sweet corn is the ability to germinate, emerge, and grow under low temperatures. The cold tolerance of 35 open-pollinated sweet corn populations and controls was measured by growing the entries under 14 °C day/10 °C night in growth chambers. The same entries were grown under warm (24 ± 2 °C) conditions in a greenhouse. Traits measured included percent and time to emergence, seedling color, and seedling root and shoot dry mass. Respective repeatability estimates calculated from mean squares were 0.08, 0.33, 0.33, 0.50, and 0.60 for these traits. Entries were ranked separately in each environment based on their performance using a rank-summation index. Differences in cold tolerance existed among the entries. Emergence ranged from 75% to 100% among the entries, with a mean of 90.9%. Time to emergence ranged from 16.2 to 21.9 d, with a mean of 18.2 d. Root and shoot mass ranged from 0.07 to 0.27 g/plot and 0.07 to 0.24 g/plot, respectively. Correlations among the traits measured were favorable, permitting simultaneous improvement. The rankings between the warm and cold environments were significantly correlated (r = 0.67***), indicating that some entries that performed well under low temperatures also performed well under warm conditions.
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