For several decades the town of Jala, Nayarit, has been the official home of the world’s longest corn cob, presented each year at the town’s Corn Festival in August.
The town sits at the foot of the Ceboroco volcano whose last eruption at the end of the 1800s left a layer of mineral-rich soil and ash on the ground believed to be one of the secrets of the region’s incredibly long ears of corn. This special variety is known not only for its length but its flour-like consistency and taste. The corn is slow to mature and each massive stalk only produces a single cob a season.
In 2017 the record for the longest corn cob was 48.5 centimeters (a little over 19 inches), which beat the 2016 best of 45 centimeters and the 2015 record of 44 centimeters. Twenty-nine local farmers participated in the Corn Festival this year and the winners were José Manuel Gómez Rodríguez and José Carmen Gómez Rodríguez both with 43 centimeter-long cobs, and Leni Elías Franques with a corn cob 41 centimeters long.
The production of this unique heritage corn is seen as being under threat by many organizations and scientists due to the loss of genetic diversity and the replacement of this ancient variety with more “modern” seeds. Researchers say this corn can only be planted and harvested by hand and are working with local farmers to develop a germplasm bank that preserves the corn’s genetic material for generations to come.
Governor Miguel Ángel Navarro Quintero, who attended the event, thanked local farmers for continuing the tradition of growing a unique variety of corn which he called extraordinary, acknowledging its fame throughout Mexico and the world. The federal agriculture minister, who joined the governor at the festival, has been touring the state with him, evaluating corn and bean production, giving away seeds, encouraging hygiene standards in animal production, and giving away pesticides for the spring harvest.
With reports from Gourmet Journal