George Crookham thinks he has developed the best ear of corn you will ever eat.
You can decide for yourself when it is served as part of the Caldwell Kiwanis' Chuckwagon dinners, a club fundraiser, on Aug. 14 through 17.
Crookham is part owner of Caldwell's Crookham Co., a seed company that specializes in developing strains of onion, popcorn and corn seeds. Farmers grow crops from these seeds to create additional sees that they deliver to Crookham to be sold to growers who then grow the crops that fill consumers' tables.
Next week, he will introduce to Idaho the new corn variety he calls Amaize.
It's a corn with a crispness that's like biting into a fresh apple. The texture holds in your mouth instead of turning chewing or mushy.
He's already test marketed his corn in the Midwest and Pennsylvania and this year is spreading out to San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose. His website boasts that Amaize is at the top of the corn heap when it comes to flavor. "Ninety-nine percent of the people who try it agree," he said.
Amaize wasn't an overnight discovery. Twenty years ago, Crookham and one of his corn breeders, Bruce Hobdey, stumbled across a corn plant one of thousands in a test field. It had the texture Crookham was looking for. Crookham remembers huddling with Hobdey over a portion of the tiny ear, nibbling away.
It was a plant with problems. The cobs were tapered like a carrot, not pleasing to the eye. The tip of the cob had no plump kernels. The flavor lacked the sweetness he was looking for. "It had a lot of deleterious aspects to it," he said.
So over 40 generations two plantings a year for two decades Crookham honed the flavors and refined the cob.
Amaize is a niche corn product. Crookham said he is not interested is having thousands of acres of it planted for sale in every store in country. While you might plunk down 33 cents an ear for regular corn, this could go for more, about 40 cents, he said.
And he said he is looking for the right growers and retailers to roll out Amaize. "We are not in a hurry," he said.
Bill Roberts: 377-6408