WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS
University of Massachusetts

Temperature sensitivity in ornamental corn and kale
--Walton C. Galinat

The temperature-sensitive chlorophyll and carotenoid factors of corn, especially al (snow white due to lack of protection by carotene), cl1 (chr. 3) and its modifier, clm (chr. 8) have counterparts in the ornamental cabbage-kales, which have the advantage over corn in continuing to grow vigorously at temperatures in the 30's just above freezing (and are edible and beautiful outdoors all winter). For a listing of about 225 such genes in corn, see Coe et al. 1988, pages 172-176 of Sprague & Dudley, Corn and Corn Improvement. As the synthesis of chlorophyll fails due to temperatures below 55 F, the synthesis of anthocyanin increases in both corn (A, B, Pl, R) and its unnamed counterpart mutants in cabbage-kale. Thus, for greatest beauty in both japonica (j) striped corn plants (termed Rainbow Corn by Luther Burbank) and ornamental cabbage-kale grown for display purposes, planting should be delayed until early July -- so that plant growth will still be active as the temperature drops towards autumn. The ornamental cabbage-kale will remain beautiful through most of the winter as the only color in an otherwise bleak landscape. In the best selected material, a central disk of scarlet red over albino is framed by a green margin. Leaf types vary from flat (cabbage), crinkle (kale) to lace (deeply cut) of endive type. 


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