Harinoso de Ocho, a nearly extinct ancient corn from western Mexico.

This breed has quite a history to it. It is one of the ancestors of the narrow-eared corns of Western Mexico and (likely) of US Southwestern types such as Papago Flour. I suspect that Harinoso de Ocho was also involved in the origin of Northern Flint-Flour, and it clusters closely in phenotype with Southeastern US 8 Row (Cherokee White Flour and Quapaw Red Flint).**

At present, H de Ocho is almost completely extinct as a breed in production, with only one “typical” (i.e. not heavily contaminated) collection held in seed banks. Its derivatives such as Tabloncillo and the colored elote corns are still widely grown in western Mexico, however.

Plants are 8 – 10 feet tall, with tillers common. Unlike most Northern Flint-Flours, however, this breed’s tillers have very little tassel seed (hermaphrodites), and many plants’ tillers will even produce fine ears. 2 particular individuals made 5 ears apiece for me last year! Row number ranges from 6 to 10, and ear length ranges from 9 to 12 inches (one was 15). Time to bloom in Tennessee is 72 days for pollen and 77 days for silking. The grain needs 55 – 60 days to ripen post pollination.

This breed is highly productive both as is and in crosses with other Mexican corns, showing excellent contribution to yield in low and medium elevation sites.*** Grain production is quite good in Tennessee too, and the plants seemed happy here last summer.

This seed stock was harvested in 2021 and traces back to 150 hand-pollinated plants.

A large chunk of the constituting seed ears.

Also, despite the “Harinoso” (floury / soft) in the name, this collection is more flinty than floury, due to introgression of a Mexican popcorn (Reventador?) decades back before the original seed stock was donated to the seed banks. Successive growouts have likely placed selection pressure on the population to become more flinty over time, favoring the introgression of the harder grain from Reventador.

cited sources:

**Werth, Lindsay C. “Characterization and classification of Native American maize landraces from the Southwestern United States.” https://dr.lib.iastate.edu/entities/publication/01678b96-9dc3-4fb4-8a35-d10e11e94f0b

***J. Crossa, S. Taba, E. J. Wellhausen. “Heterotic Patterns among Mexican Races of Maize.” 1990, Crop Science, Vol. 30, Issue 6, pages 1182-1190.

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