‘Hastings Prolific’: An Heirloom Dent Corn Variety for Gardeners, Part 2

Reader Contribution by Fala Burnette and Wolf Branch Homestead
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We recently wrote Part 1 of this article on ‘Hastings’ Prolific’ dent corn back in July, in order to help clear up rumors about this hard to find heirloom dent corn. Please refer to that article first if you have not already read it, as it gives a bit of the history on where the seeds originated from and how they have developed during the first 72 days after planting.

As we mentioned, there is not a lot of information about this corn available online other than old articles or people searching for the truth about its growth.

Among one of the rumored claims, it was said that ‘Hastings’ Prolific’ averages 14 to 18 ears per stalk, which was proven false. In reality, this dent corn only puts out one to three ears per stalk. For stalks that only had one, the ears were very large and were 8 to 10 inches long. Stalks with more had smaller ears.

One thing that turned out to be true, however, was that the stalks grow to be between eight to 10 feet tall. They can actually grow taller than this, as our average stalk height was 10 feet. The tallest measured an astounding 14 feet tall!

On Day 83 from planting, we harvested a few of the ears that were in their milky stage and cooked some corn on the cob. Adding butter, salt, and pepper made for a delicious side meal! There was only a small window of time in which to pick the ears to eat, because after about a week we picked more and the ears were too tough.

The corn truly matured after 120 days and was dry enough to be hung up for a few more weeks. The majority of the ears were very well-shapen, with even rows of kernels. The only pests we encountered were Japanese Beetles when the corn first started to develop silks, and though they would eat part of the silk, they would not destroy the corn. No pesticides were used on our corn during the time.

After the corn was thoroughly dried, we then used an antique hand-crank corn sheller that has been passed on to us to get the job of collecting seeds done in a short amount of time. We were very selective to save aside only the good kernels from each ear, separating the others to be used for corn meal. This has been a fun process, as the whole family gets involved in shelling (we even crafted quite a few corn husk dolls later on together).

Now our adventure in growing ‘Hastings’ Prolific’ and uncovering the truth about it has come to a close. We were blessed with a very successful harvest, and have saved seed for ourselves and to sell. We have also been able to eat some of the corn and set some aside for meal. It has proven to be a delicious, hardy, and productive variety of dent corn (even though it did not live up to the rumor of a dozen ears per stalk). For those interested in seed from ‘Hastings’ Prolific’, please visit our website which is linked below.

For more information on ‘Hastings’ Prolific’, or to purchase seed, please visit Wolf Branch Homestead.

Fala Burnette is a homesteader with her husband at Wolf Branch Homestead in Alabama. They have built a small cabin using lumber they have milled themselves, along with raising chickens, ducks, and goats. Read all of Fala’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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