Friday, November 13, 2009
The 8-row maize (Zea Mays) of Garfagnana, locally also known as "Formentone", was once widely cultivated throughout the valley, exclusively for use as food. Later it almost completely disappeared as a result of the depopulation of the mountain areas and the abandoning of crop farming. In recent times, the rediscovery and renewed popularity of typical and ancient products has convinced certain farmers of the region, who had continued to grow it, to devote special care to its cultivation, avoiding "contamination" with other varieties offering greater yield but inferior quality. It is a herbaceous plant, growing to a height of about two metres, bearing one or two ears per stem. The ears are long and covered by many coats of leaves. The mature kernels are an orangey yellow colour, with slight, more or less intense shading, round and fairly large. This crop does not have a high yield, but boasts nutritional features which now distinguish it as an excellent maize for polenta.