Around the world sweet corn is such an important crop that plant breeders are constantly introducing new varieties. Many were on show in this summer's Wisley trial and an interesting feature was how existing AGM winners frtom previous trials have been outclassed by recent introductions.
One of the stars of the trial was the supersweet variety ‘Seville' (left), described by the judging panel of vegetable experts as having "attractive, later maturing cobs with good shape and straight rows of small grains." Another independent assessment, from Stephen Shirley of Victorian Nursery Garden, confirms this view: "Seville is a fantastic variety of. Grows huge (as a plant), crops well with big cobs (3 per plant is about normal), has a good flavour and is hardy and easy to grow in cold years."
Trialled for the first time this year were four of a new type, the Mirai Series. These were all very early but also distinct in having very thin skins to the individual kernels. The panel noted that all four varieties were exceptionally sweet and tasty and that the eating experience was also enhanced by the thin skins. However, the thin skins also laid them open to disease infection and it was suggested that seed be sown in pots and young plants set out rather than sown direct into the soil.
Only two of the Mirai Series are available at present. ‘Mirai Bicolour' was described by the judging panel as: "Very tender, with exceptional flavour. Large, sweet, well-filled cobs." ‘Mirai White' (above) was described as having "Attractive white cobs... exceptionally tender and sweet... very good flavour."
Others to perform especially well this year included ‘Conqueror', ‘Lapwing', ‘Marshalls Honeydew' and ‘Sparrow' along with these varieties which already have an AGM following the last trial: ‘Earlibird', ‘Lark', ‘Northern Xtra Sweet', ‘Ovation', ‘Prelude' and ‘Swift'.
And finally, those varieties which had previously been awarded an AGM - some as long ago as 1996, an eternity in sweet corn development - but which have now been superseded or which are not now available having been outclassed: ‘Dickson', ‘Dynasty', ‘Gilden Giant', ‘Golden Sweet', ‘Gourmet', ‘Mainstay' and ‘Start Up'.
Look out for these top performing varieties when ordering seed for next year. I'll let you know when the ratified AGM awards become available.