Rovetta Red Hooked Corn

Ark of taste
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The red beaked maize of Rovetta is a special variety of corn farmed in the fields of the Rovetta plateau, at the feet of Presolana mountain. It is called “beaked” because the grains feature a pointed tip (rostrum). The current variety is the fruit of the selection work carried out in the fields by Bergamo farmers, already at the start of the 20th century. Since then, this improved variety has been grown and reproduced using seeds produced by Rovetta farmers. The many current ecotypes adjusted to the various environments of the Alps, from Piedmont to Friuli. The growing season from germination to harvest is 120-130 days, which places it in the 500-600 FAO maturation class. The beaked maize plant grows over 2 metres tall. There are often two ears per plant, and they are 16-18 cm long. The grains are aligned in 12-14 rows around the white cob.
The seed is a small grain, vitreous or semi-vitreous, a detail that gives it a specific weight higher than that of the floury maize used to feed livestock. The “Beaked” variety prefers valley bottom soils. Sowing is at the end of March/start of April, in rows 75 cm apart, and seeds 20-25 cm distant from one another. Harvest takes place in September and production is between 4 and 5 tons per hectare, exactly half that of the best vitreous grain hybrids, such as the plata.
The flour obtained from milling grains of beaked maize is used to make polenta, biscuits and bread. In recent years, maize farming has changed a lot since the rapid dissemination of hybrids in the 50s, which led to the near complete disappearance of the pre-existing local varieties they replaced. Nonetheless, in the area of Rovetta, the genetic heritage of the red beaked maize has been preserved, so that today there is an extraordinary sample of primogenial vitreous maize. Its flour, alone or blended with other yellow maize flours, is especially recommended for preparing traditional Bergamo polenta, and lends itself well to preparing the most varied dishes, including sweets. Let’s not forget “rovettelli”, biscuits made with potatoes and red beaked maize.

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Production area:Rovetta, Bergamo Province

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Cereals and flours

Nominated by:Silvio Magni