The other morning I was troubleshooting a field of purple corn in southern White County, Indiana. Fred Kramer, Pioneer sales agronomist, was also at the field and happened across an oddity that is worth sharing. For all intents and purposes, what is depicted in the image below is a corny example of Siamese twins.
From a single kernel of corn had developed two plumules and, subsequently, two sets of mesocotyls, coleoptiles and eventual seedlings. Only a single seminal root system was evident, but each seedling was developing its own set of nodal roots.
I looked through my 'Mutants of Maize' book and could not find a reported mutant of corn that exhibits this phenomenon. Neither Fred or I have ever seen this before.
Earlier this spring, Kirby Wuethrich, another Pioneer sales agronomist (and former student of mine), came across the same thing. At the time, I thought it sounded like the fish story about the 'big one' that got away without even a photograph taken.
Since I first published this two days ago, I've had several emails from folks who have also seen this phenomenon. One message even described Siamese triplets! If anyone else has come across this interesting quirk of corn development, please contact me also.