Late season stalk and root strength are often problems with open pollinated corn, so every fall, Abbe Hills OP is selected rigorously for disease resistance, standability and ear retention. The standability of Abbe Hills OP has improved significantly since an intensive program was begun in 2006 to improve stalk strength and yield while still maintaining high protein content.
For several seasons before 2006, corn breeders from ISU and USDA tested yield and quality traits of more than 400 lines of Latin American corn in a large research plot at Abbe Hills Farm. This plot tested these lines under organic, low-input conditions, and provided valuable information for their programs to develop new corn varieties more suitable for low-input farms.
Two relatively flinty lines, one from Uruguay and another from Argentina, were selected from the tests for their ability to contribute protein, stem strength, and yield to Abbe Hills OP. Abbe Hills OP was hand crossed with these two lines in plots in 2006. The first generation of the hybrid that resulted was planted in 2007. Since then, the corn has been managed as an open pollinated variety, and selected strongly for yellow dent qualities. The seed being sold in 2013 is the result of that cross and continued annual selection for the most desirable individual plants in each generation.