By Caitlin Switzer
MONTROSE—(September 17, 2013) He has spent years standing in corn fields, testing ears for flavor, tenderness and yield. This year, Dave MacKenzie of Montrose may have finally struck “gold.” Though his popular Mirai sweet corn variety is already known around the globe as the world’s sweetest, it has mostly been available in seed form to home growers. This year, after establishing test plots in Colorado, Illinois, New York and Florida, MacKenzie believes he is ready to take things to the next level.
“The big news is we now have one of the leading hybrids in the industry,” he said. “We have always had the taste; now our tests show that we have the yield as need to really blow the doors off. In Florida, we beat the leading industry hybrid—so we can now grow the Mirai taste in Florida. In the past, we have held back because of the yield factor.”
Here in Montrose, where local growers experimented with two-acre test plots this season, Mackenzie expects to expand to ten acres next summer. And locals who can’t get enough of the tender, sweet kernels still have two more weeks to stop by Bob Milton’s Mirai stand at the Beer Barn II location on East Main.
MacKenzie, who first discovered the Mirai strain in Illinois, has been based in Montrose for a number of years. He hopes that his latest product, a version of Mirai dubbed “No. 315,” will become something that locals recognize and take pride in as a Colorado success story. He has already moved his seed production operation to Colorado, though his sales staff remains in Illinois.
“No. 315 has been one of the mainstays at the Montrose stand this year,” MacKenzie said. “We should have enough corn to last through next weekend. Our latest hybrid has great appearance, great performance, strong yield, and great taste. It is getting picked up everywhere.
“I would really like to see this become a Colorado institution.”