What is Painted Mountain Corn?
Simply put, it’s a corn that grows where no other corn grows. Bred to withstand the harsh climate and short growing season of southwestern Montana, we’ve found that it’s the only corn that will grow and reliably produce at elevations above 5,000 feet in the northern Rocky Mountains. Bred from a variety of semi-extinct western Indian corns, Painted Mountain Corn represents a gene pool with 1,000 years of selection for reliable production in the arid and nutrient-poor soils of the western United States.
Developed over the course of 37 years in Big Timber, MT by Dave Christensen, Painted Mountain Corn has been successfully grown in marginal climates and depleted soils around the world (North Korea, Siberia, South Africa), largely through the efforts of the Seed We Need project (http://seedweneed.com)*. With a proven record in climates with marginal growing seasons around the world, Dave Christensen has created a super-corn that thrives where even barley and other cereal grains have difficulty.
Having tried a number of hybrid fast-maturing corn varieties over the years without success, we were a little skeptical when we first planted Painted Mountain corn several years ago. Living at an elevation of 5,000 ft. on a wind-swept hillside with dusty alkaline soil that routinely saw 30 mph winds and less than 11 inches of rainfall per year, our expectations were low. To our surprise, the corn came up early June, shrugged off hail storms, cold night temperatures and hot daytime winds to produce on average 2 beautiful ears of corn per plant in late August/early September. We had done our best to prepare the soil beforehand, water once a day and weed when the corn was small–efforts that paid off when we were rewarded with a bounty of rainbow-colored ears. Somehow, Painted Mountain Corn had succeeded where all other corns had failed–it produced grain at a return of 500-600 for every 1 that was planted.
Bred for its soft starches, high protein content (13%, sometimes more) and anti-oxident pigmentation (anthocyanins etc.), Painted Mountain Corn offers more than just calories–it offers easily digestible nutrition unavailable in other corn varieties. What’s more, being non-GMO, heirloom, and open pollinated means that seed-saving for Painted Mountain Corn is a reliable way to propagate from year-to-year.
In our experience, Painted Mountain Corn is fun to grow, harvest and eat, and is also a reliable way to efficiently produce a high-calorie grain with limited space and no mechanized equipment. The ears snap off easily when they’re dry, and can be easily husked and shelled with minimal equipment (a hand-held aluminum popcorn sheller from Lehman’s does the trick nicely), then ground into flour with a hand-crank grain mill (or even a blender!). What’s more, livestock enjoy the sugary leaves and the low-cellulose stems, making the feed-to-meat conversion more efficient compared to other varieties of corn.
We hope that you’ll give Painted Mountain Corn a try and let us know how it does for you.
Our seed is organically grown in southwestern Montana at elevations above 5,000 feet, and is free from cross-pollination by other varieties.
*While we love and grow Painted Mountain Corn, we have no affiliation or endorsement from Dave Christensen or the Seed We Need project. Please consider making a donation to support his corn breeding work at http://www.seedweneed.com