Pedro Revilla and W.F. Tracy
Heterotic patterns in sweet corn are weakly defined. Most sweet corn inbreds are descended from three open-pollinated cultivars: `Golden Bantam', Stowell's Evergreen', and `Country Gentleman'. Heterotic and phylogenetic relationships among these three cultivars and others are not clearly known. This investigation was designed to investigate the heterotic patterns among some historically important open-pollinated sweet corn cultivars: `Country Gentleman', `Golden Bantam', `Lindsey Meyer Blue', `Stowell's Evergreen', `Howling Mob', and `Pease Crosby'. The 15 possible hybrids from the diallel cross plus the 6 parents were grown in midspring and late summer plantings. Heterosis and combining ability effects were estimated for 13 traits. Hybrid × planting date interactions were significant for most of the main traits, hence, planting dates were analyzed separately. Average midparent heterosis for grain yield was 29.17% in the first planting date and 57.04% in the second planting. Midparent heterosis for yield and plant height were highest for hybrids with `Country Gentleman' as a parent. `Stowell's Evergreen' when crossed to `Pease Crosby', `Lindsey Meyer, and `Golden Bantam' exhibited high heterosis. The two late-maturity cultivars `Country Gentleman' and `Stowell's Evergreen' had higher general combining ability than the four early-maturity cultivars for most traits. Specific combining ability was seldom significant. Yield of `Country Gentleman' hybrids averaged over all crosses and planting dates was the highest. These data indicate a strong heterotic pattern—`Country Gentleman' × `Pease Crosby', `Golden Bantam', and `Lindsey Meyer Blue'—and a weaker one—`Stowell's Evergreen' × `Pease Crosby', `Golden Bantam', and `Lindsey Meyer Blue'.
Pedro Revilla and W.F. Tracy
Sweet corn is one of the most important vegetable crops in the United States, however the morphology and phylogeny of open-pollinated sweet corn cultivars has not been studied. Fifty eight open-pollinated sweet corn cultivars were characterized with thirty-four descriptors to provide information for breeders interested in broadening the genetic base of sweet corn. Principal component analysis and cluster analysis were performed to classify sweet corn cultivars based on morphology. Also, relationships among morphological variables in this set of cultivars were determined. The general ordination of cultivars followed an axis representing earliness, and plant, leaf, and tassel size, while ear and kernel attributes were less variable. The morphological variability among all of the widely used sweet corn cultivars, except `Country Gentleman', was not greater than the variability found among the `Golden Bantam' strains. Based on morphology, 52 of the cultivars could be considered as one race, which we propose be called `Northeastern Sweets'. These may be a subset of the race `Northern Flint'. Five of the remaining cultivars are from the north-central or southwestern United States and may represent races from those areas. The sixth cultivar is `Country Gentleman', a commercially important sweet corn cultivar. Due to the importance of `Country Gentleman' and the introgression of nonsweet germplasm into modern sweet corn, we believe that sweet corn should be defined based on its use as a vegetable and on the presence of one or more genes that increase sugar levels in the endosperm.
C.L. Treat and W.F. Tracy
Goss's wilt is a bacterial wilt and blight that may cause yield losses up to 50% or greater in sweet corn. Ten hybrids from a diallel cross of five sweet corn (Zea mays L.) inbreds were analyzed for resistance to Goss's wilt (Corynebacterium michiganense ssp. nebraskense Schuster, Hoff, Mandel, and Lazar) in 1987 and 1988. The inbreds used to make the diallel were widely used historically and were chosen on the basis of adaptation and relative maturity. Three hybrids were resistant and seven intermediate, while the field corn controls were extremely susceptible. General combining ability (GCA) and specific combining ability (SCA) sums of squares accounted for 94% and 6% of the variation among crosses, respectively. GCA was highly significant (P ≤ 0.01), while SCA was nonsignificant. Year differences were nonsignificant, but date of rating and hybrid × year interaction effects were significant (P 0.05). Resistance to Goss's wilt is available in sweet corn, and recurrent selection should be effective if improvement in resistance is desired.
I.L. Goldman and W.F. Tracy
Changes in endosperm type used for commercial sweet corn (Zea mays L.) production may affect corn protein levels. The two most widely used endosperm types are sugary-1 (su1) and shrunken-2 (sh2). To determine the effects of endosperm type on protein concentration, we calculated kernel N concentrations of dry mature kernels of seven inbreds near-isogenic for su1 and sh2 and of four samples of commercially canned su1 and sh2 sweet corn. Nitrogen values were converted to protein values using a standard conversion factor for maize. For the dry kernels and the canned samples, significant differences were detected between endosperm types for kernel protein concentration when measured on a weight basis. Averaged overall inbreds, the sh2 dry kernels had 30% more protein than su1 kernels. On a weight basis, the sh2 canned samples averaged 22% more protein than the su1 samples. When compared on a kernel basis, protein concentration of the two endosperm types did not differ. Thus, sh2 sweet corn marketed as a frozen or canned product may be identified as a higher protein product when the serving size is based on weight or calories.
C.L. Treat and W.F. Tracy
Root or stalk lodging can be a serious problem in sweet corn (Zea mays L.) production. Four dent corn inbreds, crossed to five sweet corn inbreds in a design II mating system, and a half diallel with five sweet corn inbreds were used to 1) determine the effect and potential contribution of dent corn germplasm on stalk and root quality traits in sweet corn, 2) examine the variation for stalk and root quality traits in some sweet corn germplasm, and 3) evaluate the utility of traits used in improving dent corn root and stalk quality in sweet corn improvement. The dent corn germplasm used in this study had a favorable affect on stalk and root quality in the dent × sweet hybrids. Compared to the sweet × sweet hybrids, the dent × sweet hybrids had significantly higher stalk crushing strength and stalk soluble carbohydrates, while having significantly less stalk lodging. The mean stalk lodging for the dent × sweet hybrids was 4.4%, while the sweet × sweet hybrids averaged 18.7%. Within the diallel, effects due to hybrids were highly significant for stalk section weight, rind thickness, and stalk diameter. Percent stalk lodging was negatively correlated with stalk section weight [r = (-0.63), P ≤ 0.05] and crushing strength [r = (-0.64), P ≤ 0.05]. No traits were significantly correlated with root lodging within the sweet corn crosses. Dent corn has potential as a source of improved stalk and root quality in sweet corn.
T.E. Dickert and W.F. Tracy
Heterosis in corn (Zea mays L.) usually results in earlier flowering, larger plants, and increased yield. In extremely early sweet corn the effect of heterosis on flowering time may be reduced or eliminated due to developmental and physiological requirements for vegetative growth before the transition to reproductive phase. The objective of this study was to determine the level of heterosis and the combining ability for flowering time and other agronomic traits in a diallel cross of six very early open-pollinated sweet corn cultivars. The diallel was grown in 1995 and 1996. Hybrids and parents averaged over hybrids differed for silk date, plant height, ear height, 10-ear weight, ear length, and 100-kernel weight but did not differ for row number and ear width. Heterosis for silk date was significant, but the difference between parents and hybrids was very small, 0.5 day. No hybrids were earlier than the earliest parent, and average midparent heterosis was -0.8%. In contrast midparent heterosis was significant and relatively high for 100-kernel weight (10.0%), ear length (12.9%), ear height (8.6%), plant height (9.0%), and 10-ear weight (28.2%). The traits with low heterosis had very high general combining ability/specific combining ability ratios while these ratios were much smaller in traits with high heterosis. Heterosis for many of the traits, including 10-ear weight, was higher than published values. Conversely, heterosis for flowering time was small, compared to other traits in this study and to published values for silk date, indicating that this extremely early germplasm may be at or near the limit for flowering time under the photoperiod and temperatures typical of summer in Madison, Wis. (43.05°N, 89.31°W).
A.E. Tiefenthaler, I.L. Goldman and W.F. Tracy
J.R. Hotchkiss, P. Revilla and W.F. Tracy
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.
P. Revilla, J.R. Hotchkiss and W.F. Tracy
Many sweet corn hybrids germinate poorly and have low seedling vigor in cold soils. Sources of cold tolerance and an understanding of its inheritance would benefit sweet corn production. Our objective was to determine the genetics of cold tolerance among open-pollinated progenitors of modern sweet corn. Six open-pollinated sweet corn cultivars were used as parents of a diallel. The 15 crosses plus reciprocals, parents, and checks were evaluated in cold chambers. Growing conditions were 14 hours with light at 14 °C, and 10 hours without light at 10 °C. Days to emergence, percent emergence, shoot dry weight, and root dry weight were recorded. The experiment was repeated in the greenhouse under warm conditions. Variation for cold tolerance was present among the crosses and cultivars. The variation was primarily due to general combining ability (GCA) effects, with specific combining ability (SCA) effects and reciprocal effects being significant for seedling dry mater. `Howling Mob' had significant favorable GCAs for all cold tolerance traits and resulted in the most cold-tolerant hybrids. `Country Gentleman' and `Stowell's Evergreen' were the slowest emerging parents. Days to emergence under cold conditions was not correlated to days to emergence under warm conditions. The correlations between root weight (cold) and root weight (warm) and shoot weight (cold) and shoot weight (warm) were significant, positive, and relatively large. In this material it appears that seedling vigor under warm conditions could be used to predict seedling size under cold conditions.