7. "First" Maize Breeder had Crossing Plot at New Haven in 1836.
In the 1845 issue (Vol. 2, p28) of the Cultivator magazine occurs an interesting letter from Noyes Darling, a New Haven lawyer and judge, telling how he developed a variety of sweet corn. The full letter will be published shortly, probably in the Journal of Heredity. We enclose an excerpt giving his procedure the first year, 1836.
"1st year. I had a very early yellow corn, but quite diminutive in its growth -- the stalks not over 3 feet in height, and the ears not over 4 inches in length. Late in the season I planted this in a patch of sweet or shriveled corn, then considerably grown. As soon as the tops or blossoms of the yellow corn protruded, they were cut off, in order that the early corn might be impregnated only by the sweet corn. The result this year was yellow corn of the usual size and appearance."
This then appears to be the first crossing plot in which one variety was detasseled to be pollinated by another although James Logan had cut tassels off of corn 100 years earlier in his experiments to determine whether pollen was necessary for fertilization. However Darling's experiment seems to be the first time a maize breeder had detasseled a variety of corn in order to make a controlled pollination. From the sweet-flint cross, by selection he produced an early white sweet corn that matured on July 18 in New Haven, a very early corn. He described his experiment in a concise, accurate fashion that would serve as a model for scientific reporting today.
W. Ralph Singleton