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Heritage Corn

An ear of heritage corn among a basket of kernels.

For centuries, humans have grown grains for food, animal feed and countless other uses. Today, we enjoy our corn roasted, popped, grilled, creamed and made into a longtime favorite of West Virginians, cornbread.

For those wanting that old-timey corn flavor, Golden Bantam is the way to go. This variety is known for early planting and its rich flavor. These stalks only grow to 5 feet tall with two ears that are approximately 6 inches in length. Plant 1 inch deep with 5 to 6 inches between seeds in rows that are 2 to 3 feet apart. When the plants are about 4 inches tall, they will need thinned to 1 foot apart.

When it comes to old-fashioned cornbread, Bloody Butcher stands out in this field. This old dent-type will tower over your garden with stalks growing up to 12 feet tall with two to six ears. Plant these kernels ½ inch deep with 3 inches between kernels. As the plants mature, make sure to thin out the smaller ones to give you 8 to 12 inches between plants.

If you’re looking for a blue variety of heritage corn, Blue Clarage has been grown in West Virginia for decades. Plant ½ inch deep with 6 inches between seeds. This blue beauty stands at 10 feet tall with a couple of 9-inch ears.

These kernels can range from white to dark purple or blue. If you plan to roast or fry your blue corn, make sure to harvest during the milk stage. When ground into cornmeal or flour, this variety results in a sweeter product than many dent corn varieties.

By Evan Wilson, WVU Extension Agent – Cabell and Wayne Counties