National Geographic : 1916 May
Photograph by O. F. Cook A CROSS-SECTION OF A TERRACE This part of a ruined terrace shows how the gardens were constructed. At this point the retaining wall had been carried away, except a little at the lower left-hand corner, thus ex posing the material behind the wall and allow ing its arrangement to be seen. Two distinct strata are apparent, coarse stones and clay below, with fine agricultural soil above. ancient graves, but by the fact that the type of maize that furnishes the bulk of the Peruvian crop is peculiar to that region. The question is not merely of varieties, which are very numerous in both continents, but of a whole series of varieties very unlike any that are known from Central America or Mexico. This Peruvian maize, or Cuzco corn, as it has been called in the United States, is characterized by the very large kernels, some of them nearly an inch broad, al most the size of chestnuts. The large kernels are an advantage from the stand point of the natives of Peru, who are accustomed to eating corn a kernel at a time. The usual method of cooking corn, and everything else in Peru, is by boiling, the reason being probably that more fuel would be required for roasting or parch ing. Fuel is very scarce and expensive in all of the populous districts of Peru. PERUVIAN CORN MAY HELP US In the United States the large kernels would be of less importance, but the Peruvian type of maize may prove inter esting in another way. The fact that the Cuzco corn is the only type grown ex tensively on the high slopes and table lands may mean that it is more suited to cool climates than other sorts of maize. The large kernels have attracted the attention of travelers, and numerous at tempts have been made to introduce the Cuzco corn into the United States. Bay ard Taylor raised a few plants in Penn sylvania as far back as 1865 from seeds brought home by Squier, the well-known writer on PIeru.* Such experiments with the Cuzco corn in the United States have given a completely misleading impression regarding the habits of the plant. The usual behavior of the Cuzco corn in the United States is to produce plants of enormous size that mature very little seed, often none at all. It has been taken for granted that the size of the plants should be in proportion to the enormous kernels, and that our seasons were not long enough to permit this type of corn to mature. But in Peru one does not see these gigantic, infertile plants, nor any indica tion that the corn crop requires a large amount of heat to bring it to maturity. The impression one gets from the Peru vian corn-fields is that the plants are not taller than with us and rather more slen der, the most striking peculiarity being the prevailing red color of the foliage. The best development and largest ears of the Cuzco corn are found in some of the higher valleys, at elevations between 9,000 and I I,ooo feet, in districts where the summer climate is cooler than in any of the corn - growing regions of the United States. Thus it becomes apparent that the pos sibility of utilizing the Cuzco type of corn in the United States is still practically un *American Agriculturist,40: 9, January, 1881.