Sweet corn makes many people smile. Minnesota grown corn-on-the-cob is a culinary sign of midsummer, awaited by gourmets of every age. However, consumption of fresh produce is dwarfed by quantities commercially processed and sold frozen or canned. The Midwest region of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois produces more than 45 percent of the U.S. supply of processed vegetables, with a wholesale value close to two billion dollars. Much is sold directly to the food service industry: restaurants, schools, and hospitals.
Minnesota's canning industry began in the 1920s, and expanded because the cool and somewhat dry climate in Minnesota reduces insect and disease problems. Even so, up to 10 percent of the pea crop is lost to root rot. U of M horticultural research focuses on root rot in peas, and control of European corn borer and ear worm damage in sweet corn.
Breeders developed and released to seed companies germplasm with improved resistance to these pests, and scientists are improving crop management systems for sustainable production. Also, food scientists have increased the nutrient levels of processed foods, through improved storage and processing technology.
Minnesota ranks first in green peas production
Minnesota ranks second in sweet corn production, with one and a half billion pounds grown annually. Most is canned or frozen.
Vegetables as Medicine
Cabbage grown at the Southern Research and Outreach Center, Waseca, is part of a U of M medical and nutrition study. Plant scientists are developing methods to enhance the plant's production of nutriceuticals, chemicals such as glucosinolates that reduce one's risk of cancer.
The relationship of plants and human health is the focus of additional studies by food and biomedical scientists and horticulturalists. Other crops being evaluated for cancer chemopreventive agents include watercress, Chinese cabbage, carrots, turnips, and tomatoes.
U of M Green Pea Varieties
|MN 494 A11||1980|
U of M Sweet Corn Varieties
|Minhybrid 201, 202, 203||1936|
|Minhybrid 204, 205||1937|
|AS 11, AS 12||1986|
|A 684su, A 685su, A 686su||1992|
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