New heirloom corn strain discovered

It’s not everyday that someone gets credit for contributing a previously unidentified variety of seed to the national seed bank, but that’s exactly what’s happened at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, just over the Georgia state line from Macon County.

A previously unidentified variety of corn — dubbed the Malot Strain of Hawkins Prolific — was detected by honors biology students and Science Department Chair Woody Malot. The National Genetic Resources Program verified the germplasm sample.

Malot keeps approximately 13 heirloom varieties that students sort through regularly, trying to find the most representative sample, when the new variety was discovered.

“Not only is the school making a contribution to the genome/germplasm database, we are also helping preserve genetic material that the modern hybrids depend upon,” Malot said. “In this day and time, seldom is a new (heirloom) variety of plant or animal identified. To have a variety we contributed recognized is a major accomplishment.”

Some in the farming business might know Malot through his other role, that of mill operator of Barker’s Creek Mill on Betty Creek Road in Rabun County, Georgia.

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