Corn hybrids specialized for food, feed
Event highlights new demand for non-GMO varieties
By KRISS NELSON
LUTHER – Attendees of a Practical Farmers of Iowa Sept. 15 field day near Luther learned more about specialty corn hybrids, how they are bred, uses and applications and the large variety of hybrids being grown.
The field day was located at the home of Dr. Alix and Mary Jane Paez. Alix Paez is president and a corn breeder that develops specialty and non-GMO corn hybrids for the Iowa-based seed company Genetic Enterprises International.
Topics covered were various uses for specialty corn hybrids including high lysine corn, resistant starch corn, waxy corn, floury corn, high carotenoid corn and high anthocyanin corn, all of which are being raised by GEI.
Dr. Jay-Lin Jane, professor of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University, told the group resistant starch could be used to help control diabetes.
“Resistant corn starch in a diet isn’t as easily broken down,” she said, so it is absorbed more slowly into the blood stream than other starches.
Hanyu Yangcheng, an ISU doctorate student talked about waxy corn and its uses in food and non-food applications.
Yangcheng said waxy corn starch is used in frozen foods, ethanol, livestock feed, textiles and adhesives.
Waxy corn, she said, “improves the freeze-thaw stability of frozen food products.”
According to Yangcheng, waxy corn starch has a lower retrograclation rate than normal corn starch during cold storage, and can also be used as a thickening agent in soup.
Animals fed with this starch show an increase in daily weight gain and milk production compared to those fed normal dent corn, since waxy corn starch is easily digested.
When used in the ethanol process, Yangcheng said waxy corn has a higher conversion efficiency than that compared to normal dent corn.
Alix Paez said GEI released a new hybrid this year of high carotenoid corn.
This specialty hybrid, Paez said, has a place in the market due to its high nutritional content of vitamin A.
Vitamin A, Paez said is good for eye function and general health.
High carotenoid corn, he added, is a hard-textured corn that can be used in the food industry to make grits and breakfast cereals.
High anthocyanin corn, said Dr. Paul Scott, assistant professor for the department of agronomy and a researcher for the USDA, is a corn that is high in antioxidants, but most commonly known for its pigment.
This corn, Scott said, is blue in color and is popular for specialty products such as blue tortillas and blue corn chips.
“It’s a good specialty product that has a lot of demand,” said Scott.
The field day concluded with a short field tour where attendees looked over the specialty hybrids on the stalk.
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