Glass Gem is undoubtedly one of the most visually striking types of corn with its stunning array of rainbow colors. Its backstory is just as captivating, making it even more alluring.
The story of Glass Gem corn traces back to Oklahoma farmer Carl Barnes, who sought to reconnect with his Native American heritage by cultivating older corn varieties.
With his innate talent for corn breeding, he carefully selected and preserved seeds from cobs that displayed vibrant, translucent hues, resulting in the mesmerizing rainbow-colored corn we see today. The tale was primarily shared by Barnes’ protégé, Greg Schoen, in 2012 when Glass Gem corn gained widespread recognition on the internet.
Barnes accomplished something extraordinary when he devoted his time to nurturing older strains of corn. He successfully identified ancestral varieties that had been lost to Native American tribes who were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma in the 1800s.
Through this accomplishment, he could exchange ancient corn seeds with people from all over the country who had become his friends.
It is unknown how many seasons the farmer spent carefully choosing, preserving, and replanting the unique seeds that eventually resulted in a magnificent variety of corn that has gained popularity globally. Despite the mystery surrounding the exact duration of his efforts, the farmer’s hard work paid off after years of dedication.
In 1994, at a Native plant gathering in Oklahoma, another farmer named Greg Schoen had the pleasure of meeting Barnes and was mesmerized by the display of rainbow-colored corn. The following year, Barnes kindly shared some of his precious rainbow seeds with Schoen, who planted them that summer, thus beginning their partnership.
Schoen and Barnes maintained a strong friendship throughout the years. Schoen was fortunate enough to receive more rainbow seeds over time. He started growing small amounts of the vibrant corn in New Mexico after he moved there in 1999.
In 2005, Schoen decided to increase his cultivation initiatives by reserving more significant areas of land near Santa Fe for the rainbow corn. This was in addition to the more common varieties he had been growing.
As the rainbow corn interacted with traditional varieties, it resulted in the emergence of entirely new variants. Each year, the corn displayed more vivid hues and intricate designs, which reflected Barnes’ fantastic work in conserving and nurturing the corn’s genetic diversity over time.
Schoen took on the challenge of coming up with unique names for the different colors and patterns that were visible on the lively corn. His creativity led him to come up with monikers such as “circus colors,” “true rainbow,” and “deep blue,” among others. These names aptly captured the diverse hues and designs that adorned this exceptional type of corn.
After a lot of consideration, Schoen finally decided to call his newly grown corn variety “Glass Gems”. The corn had a remarkable blend of blue-green and pink-purple colors, which caught everyone’s attention in 2007. This unique variety eventually became the center of the initial image that went viral in 2012, making it an internet sensation.
Through careful and precise selection and refinement over time, the Glass Gem corn has transformed into a stunning and flawless variety that boasts a vibrant rainbow of colors.
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