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Bicolor waxy corn, anyone?

Boiled corn is a favorite snack food for the young and adults alike. Years back, we enjoyed the small ears of native glutinous or “malagkit” white corn. Then the yellow sweet and super sweet varieties came along, which are still among the favorites.

Em Mandanas showing an ear of Violeta waxy corn

Em Mandanas showing an ear of Violeta waxy corn

Later came the so-called waxy corn varieties. These are hybrid varieties with tender kernels that are sweet and somewhat glutinous. The early waxy varieties were pure white and because they are hybrids, the ears are much bigger than the old native glutinous corn. The latest to be introduced in the local market is the so-called bicolor waxy corn. This has multicolored kernels, some of which are dark purple, some light red, violet, and in between.

There have been bicolor varieties that were earlier introduced but the latest we know is the Violeta variety that George Edrada, a former overseas Filipino worker (OFW), is in love with. He is now growing the variety on a staggered basis in his farm in Cauplasan, Sta. Maria, Pangasinan.

We recently attended a harvest festival in his farm highlighting the new variety. He says he likes Violeta for a number of good reasons. For one, he likes the soft, juicy, and sweet taste of the kernels that are somewhat glutinous. This is one reason, he says, the consumers love it, and that is surely the reason the traders are continually looking for it. Another selling point is that the colored kernels are believed to contain more antioxidants that are beneficial to the health.

The Violeta bicolor corn has other desirable characteristics aside from its good eating quality. Edrada says that it has a longer keeping quality than most varieties of boiling corn. Most easily deteriorate in quality two or three days after harvesting. They lose their freshness easily. In the case of Violeta, he says, the freshness stays for as long as five days if it is not husked.

Another characteristic that Edrada appreciates is that the ears are usually filled to the tip. And the ear tips are fully covered with husk so that it is less susceptible to ear worm infestation. The Violeta plants are of medium height compared to most varieties. This is considered an advantage because the plants are not easily toppled by strong winds. While the plant is short-statured, its ears are big.

Edrada observes that the biggest ears are produced during the summer months if the plants are irrigated. Five ears may weigh as much as two kilos, he said. This means that it could be really  profitable for the farmer, especially now that the usual practice is to sell the ears by the kilo instead of the old practice of selling by the piece. The usual offer of traders who are buying by the piece is P2.8 to P3 per ear.

On the other hand, the current farm gate price is P18 per kilo. That is already high as far as the farmer is concerned. But if the farmer himself retails the boiled corn, he can make even much more. Big ears that are already boiled may sell for as much as P15 a piece.

Edrada has his own creative marketing strategy. He does not over-produce to keep the price profitable. To do that, he staggers his planting. Every few weeks he just plants half a hectare from which he can make a profit of P40,000 to P50,000 in a growing period of 65 to 70 days. By staggering his production, he can have a continuous cash flow throughout the year.

There you are. One of these days, try eating a boiled ear of Violeta waxy corn. You will be glad you did. Better still, if you are a farmer, grow the variety yourself.