Its stalks are sturdy, can grow quite tall, and produce ears that are eight inches long with sixteen to eighteen rows of kernels in varying colors. Like other flint/flour types of corn, 'Petmecky' can be harvested young and eaten as roasting ears. However, it is generally allowed to mature on the stalks, dry, and is then ground into corn meal or flour. Its ears are also quite ornamental.
A "grain corn" with a long and interesting history, it was once relied upon as a primary source of sustenance for a community in the Texas Hill Country. It is also a perfect example of the Victory Seed Company's core seed preservation mission in action, as well as for how long it can sometimes take to get endangered varieties into folks' gardens.
As explained by Mike Dunton, founder of the Victory Seed Company, "In 2005, we were contacted by a gentleman from Fredericksburg, Texas named C. B. 'Hoppy' Hopkins." Mr. Hopkins described a sad, yet all too familiar story, when he wrote:
"German settlers came to Fredericksburg, Texas . . . In 1847 the settlers negotiated a treaty with the Comanche that remains unbroken. [Petmecky] Family oral tradition describes that the family were given the seeds by the [American] Indians.After failing to find any interest from museums or universities, his search led him to the Victory Seed Company, who gladly accepted the challenge of trying to save this precious heirloom from extinction.
The family has planted a large block of it every year since ... until now. The last family member in residence died, there are no heirs interested in farming the 'old home place,' and the place is up for sale. The last crop he planted was left standing in the field.
I picked some to save from the bugs/deer, and now what? Would you like to have it? This is probably all that remains of the 'Petmecky' corn legacy. I just hate to see it lost to time."
Mike Dunton said, "No one really knows how many unique plant varieties are lost to time in any given year. But because of the foresight of concerned people like Hoppy, we do get a very real understanding about the razor's edge on which a variety’s survival is often balanced. If Hoppy had simply driven past the field that fall day and thought, 'oh how sad' instead of taking action, this tangible connection to the past would now be lost."
Although it grew well on Victory's farm in Oregon, it was late maturing. Not wanting to risk wasting any more of the precious seed, the remaining supply was carefully packed and stored in a freezer until finding a trusted seed grower, in a climate zone closer to that of Texas.
Our friend, farmer, and fellow seed preservationist, David Pendergrass in Middle Tennessee took on the task of growing 'Petmecky' for us," Dunton explained. "Thanks to his success, gardeners throughout the country will now be able to collectively help to preserve 'Petmecky' corn for future generations."
For a complete listing of hundreds of rare, endangered, heirloom, open-pollinated seed varieties, please visit the Victory Seed Company's web site at www.VictorySeeds.com.
The Victory Seed Company is a farm-based, family owned, mission-driven organization that works to preserve biodiversity by locating, growing, documenting and keeping rare and endangered heirloom seed varieties available to gardeners.