George and Martha? Bill and Hillary? Mark Antony and Cleopatra? Well, none really. But if you had to pick one of these couples, A, B, C, or D – which makes the most sense? A – Linus and Lucy; brother and sister and supposedly full sibs.
The seedlings shown here are hybrid corn seedlings. Single cross progeny growing at the little farm in Madison county spoken of here from time to time. These two are holding forth in a field of almost a half million of their closest relatives. I’ll not be naming them all.
Corn plants are hermaphroditic so giving them gendered names is a stretch to begin with. But the kinship between the two shown here is more brother and sister than husband and wife. What’s more, these two, growing side by side as they are, will influence each other as the season goes on. Within a several days they’ll each have grown large enough to detect the presence of the other (and the seedlings on their other side within their row… in a week or two they’ll also become aware of the rows of other seedlings planted 30 inches (76cm) to each perpendicular side). If a weed should grow large enough in their immediate neighborhood, they’ll account for it as well. Pretty clever little guys.
Linus and Lucy each cost about two tenths of a cent (USD$ 0.002). I should hasten to add that full retail for some hybrid seed corn can be as much as twice this. Doesn’t sound like much for such complicated critters though does it? But do the math. If they were grown from mere corn grain and not from inbred parents specifically bred for the purpose they would have been far less expensive. Their offspring this fall will be mere corn grain. Their offspring, at today’s prices, will fetch a significantly smaller price of about USD$ 0.00004 (using $3.74 per bushel – the spot CBOT price when I wrote this *). So each of them will need to make 50 kernels just to pay for their own cost. And of course, their individual cost is only a fraction of the expense to raise the crop.
These busy little guys are off to a fine start. But many perils await them as they do their best to make more than 50 kernels each. If all goes well for them they could make more than 600 kernels each by the end of October. And if I can manage it I’ll be back to the field frequently to get more pictures of their progress. Stay tuned.
* CBOT is the Chicago Board of Trade. The actual price I’ll realize for their grain will be a local price that will include a basis – essentially a cost for moving the grain to a terminal market.