The Corn that Everyone’s Talking About!
By far the sweetest-tasting corn ever grown, and also the most tender!
Species: mays var. rugosa
Variety: Bicolor Mirai 301BC
Item Form: (P)?Pkt of 100 seeds
Days To Maturity: 72
Fruit Color: White
Seeds Per Pack: 100
Plant Height: 7 ft
Additional Characteristics: Direct Sow,?Edible
Light Requirements: Full Sun
Resistance: Rust,?Stewart’s Wilt
Soil Tolerance: Normal,? loamy
74 days. Its name means “the future is almost here,” but once you taste your first bite of Mirai Bicolor Corn, you’ll know that’s wrong — the future IS here, and its name is Mirai! This ultra supersweet corn is so sugary and succulent that it gives new meaning to the term “caramel corn”!
The story of this corn’s wild popularity is incredible. It was bred on the Ahrens family farm in Illinois by J. David Mackenzie, a plantsman from Cornell University. As the economy worsened for family farms in the early 1990s, the Ahrenses hired Mackenzie to research new strains of sweet corn for market use. When he discovered Mirai, he was really just trying to create a more disease-resistant variety. But one taste changed all that.
At first, the new corn didn’t seem marketable. It needs to be hand-picked, which ruled out production by the huge commercial farms in the U.S. So Mackenzie introduced it instead to Japan, where small “boutique” farms are common, and many crops are still picked by hand. Within a few years Mirai had become the bestselling sweet corn in Japan, capturing an amazing 35% of the market from all other varieties! (That’s where it got its name, too. Mirai (pronounced me-RYE) also means “taste”!)
Once small American farms and roadside produce operations heard of Mirai’s success in Japan (where it made headlines), everyone wanted the seed. But until now, the breeders have wisely released only a small amount of seed, continuing to test and trial it. The results have been spectacular — and those farmers’ markets lucky enough to grow Mirai have been besieged by long lines all season long! It’s not uncommon for folks to drive 100 miles or more to wait in line for Mirai — and it is especially popular with older corn-lovers, because it is so gentle on the teeth or dentures.
Needless to say, we are delighted to make this remarkable corn available from seed to our Park gardeners!These ears are 8 inches long, with good “tip fill” (meaning that the kernels stay plump and delicious all the way to the end of the ear instead of petering out!) and excellent coverage by dark green husks. Once picked, the ears last up to 6 weeks if refrigerated! (But you’ll eat every last one LONG before then!) The 6-foot plants are very, very heavy-yielding, and show good resistance to Stewart’s Wilt and common rust.
Our Director of Seeds had the opportunity to sample Mirai last summer, and began negotiating to buy the seed that same day. “I have never tasted anything like it in my life,” she tells us. “I sampled it raw in the field, and it was all I could do not to eat the entire cob!”
Mirai is as easy to grow as other corn, but it must be isolated from other varieties (EXCEPT other Supersweets) by at least 50 feet. This is important — the plants will grow and set fruit just fine if grown among other varieties, but they will cross-pollinate and you won’t be harvesting the true Mirai If you want to continue growing other varieties as well as Mirai, just plant Mirai at least 2 weeks after the others. (It appreciates warmer soil anyway!)
Because Mirai is low on starch content, work some amendments into the soil before planting these seeds, and be sure to wait until the soil has thoroughly warmed in spring before sowing seed. Sow it a bit more shallowly (about 1? inches) than you would other corn, and space the plants a bit farther apart. Keep the moisture level as constant as possible during the growth season. Let the ears mature fully, following the old rules about waiting 3 weeks after the silks appear, checking that the silks are brown and brittle before picking, and then squeezing a kernel from the tip of a sample ear to make sure that it’s full of milky liquid. Mirai acquires its fabulous flavor during the final weeks of growth, so harvesting at full maturity is very important!
The best flavor emerges when Mirai is boiled for no more than 2 minutes, or grilled into a sugary-sweet confection. It is delectable raw too, but you’ll notice the sweetest flavor when it is just barely cooked. Whoever thought that corn could be such a gourmet delicacy? Pkt is 100 seeds.