Something new down on the farm in Taiwan...and American farmers should be interested if they?
Something new down on the farm in Taiwan...and American farmers should be interested if they want to profit from a product they now consider a waste. Chinese farmers call it mini-corn, and they are now canning and exporting it all around the wold.
Taiwan is the world's most densely populated area -- surpassing Japan and Holland -- and exports are the backbone of its economy, so land and labor are fully utilized. Their newest farm product is mini-corn, the tiny growth that pops out between regular husks.
Also known as axil ears, the tiny corns are usually sterile and require special attention. Plant geneticists at Taiwan's Corn Research Center -- where this new food was developed -- are trying to reduce its susceptibility to downy mildew and the corn borer.
Mature corn plants have both male and female elements. The male feature is the tassel that crowns the plant and produces the fertilizing grains of pollen. Since axil ears, or mini-corn, would not ordinarily grow to maturity, Chinese farmers must fertilize them by hand.
After pouring pollen on the young growths they place bags over the ears that will go back to the laboratory for study. They are working to improve the variety and to increase the yield.
Mini-corn is harvested in 50 to 60 days after seeding when the young cob is about three to four inches long. The regular ears of corn on the stalk remain untouched and are not harvested until full maturity...at the size we commonly see on American farms.
With intensive farming the Chinese get three crops a year, as they do with some varieties of rice.
Taiwan's mini-corn looks and tastes like the larger variety. But after cooking, the entire ear is eaten, either as a tid-bit or in salads.