Frank Kutka in Montana, USA (who is helping the developer to promote the corn) brought this seed to ECHO’s attention. Frank wrote, "Corn breeder Dave Christensen has developed a corn that will grow quite far north in the USA (Montana). We wondered if some of the traits bred into 'Painted Mountain' corn could be helpful to your readers who are working in areas where it is difficult to grow corn. "Dave and I are not out to replace all the local corn varieties in the marginal lands, but are wondering if 'Painted Mountain' might be useful in stressed regions and for introducing corn production in areas that may not grow corn. "For the last 27 years Dave has been crossing and selecting for a new variety of corn that would take the rigors of growing in Montana with its short growing season, cold springs and nights, hot days, and frequent high wind and drought. The resulting variety, 'Painted Mountain,' is very rugged and productive for such an extremely early corn. It must be picked by hand because it is usually too short and the stalks too weak for machine harvest, but it makes long ears of beautifully colored floury kernels, even under stress. "Dave has now commercialized 'Painted Mountain' in order to make a small living for himself. But one of his concerns is to find out how well Painted Mountain would do in other areas with difficult conditions. We currently have trials being done by a Mennonite Central Committee cooperator in Bolivia, a university botanist in Uzbekistan, and someone in the Chinese government.
"I suspect also that it may be a good source for stress tolerance traits for improving corn in other areas in combination with locally adapted varieties. For instance here in the USA in Minnesota's coastal region 'Painted Mountain' suffers from fungus problems. But when crossed with local varieties we get a corn that has better tolerance to cold and earlier maturity. These crosses seem to have a better chance at being useful. "This variety has been developed in Montana for short, stress-filled seasons. It is tolerant to drought and cold, enduring both the cold springs and nights and the occasional blazing hot days experienced in Montana.
This corn is not tolerant of some fungi, so in damp climates the ears should be picked as soon as they are mature and hung to dry the way our Indian forebears did it. The grain has incredible colors! Painted Mountain usually makes a plant that is about 4 feet tall and a single ear 6-10 inches long. Maturity is about 100 days in northern Minnesota, about 70 days farther south in Iowa (both states in the USA). "Please ask those who test 'Painted Mountain' to report both success and failures. We need to know the climate in the area, plant height, ear size, number of plants successfully producing ears (%), pest and disease troubles, acceptability of this corn either green or dried for local tastes. We will take any info we can get of course, but the more the better. Especially important would be a side by side comparison with a local variety." Reports on "Painted Mountain'" trials should be forwarded to Dave Christensen, 518 Montana Ave, Havre, MT 59501 USA and a copy to ECHO.