Breaking the cycle of bad plants - bad seed - bad plants with a winter crop in temperate Chile

The summer of 1986 was the coolest and wettest in Massachusetts that I have experienced there in 32 years. My corn grew poorly, flowered late and produced poor, somewhat immature seed that was similar to that which I usually obtained from a winter crop planted in early November in the Homestead area of southern Florida. Had my winter crop been planted in Florida with this bad seed, it would have produced bad plants bearing bad seeds. But my winter crop of 1986-87 was grown in the Corn Belt of Chile in Rancagua about 100 miles south of Santiago. Although the poor quality of seed planted gave a poor stand of weak plants that flowered later than expected, under the Rancagua conditions, it produced good quality seed. When this good seed was planted and grown during this past favorable summer in Massachusetts, again normal good quality seed resulted. The sick cycle had been broken.

The consequences of this sequence of events might be falsely interpreted by some as resulting from epimutations to defective seed such as may occur in somaclonal variation from the weak plants regenerated from a scutellar clone that are subsequently repaired or reprogrammed in germline cells-a suspicion that cannot be ignored.

Walton C. Galinat

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