Seed company develops drought-tolerant corn

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Seed company develops drought-tolerant corn

Mon, 01/17/2011

The demand for corn continues to grow due, in part, to the federal government’s ethanol mandate and the world’s growing population. As this occurs, corn growers are planting the crop on land that is not always ideally suited for the crop. In an effort to make corn more productive on this land, the Pioneer seed company researched and developed five hybrid platforms that handle dryer growing conditions better than the average varieties.

Known commercially as Optimum Aquamax, the new varieties have a 5 percent yield advantage, on average, over other corn hybrids. To validate this fact, the newly released product was field tested in 223 water-limited efficiency trials concentrated in Nebraska, California, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas. Those locations happen to be in the western Corn Belt which is the target market for the product.

While many recent innovations in corn and soybean technology involve transgenic genes, these new hybrids were developed under traditional plant breeding methods and contain only genes from corn. That said, Pioneer officials acknowledge that they are working on transgenic drought-tolerant varieties which could be available later this decade.

The current Aquamax hybrids are geared towards grain producers. “At this time in 2011, the corn hybrids currently being introduced onto the market do not include silage-specific hybrids,” says Jerry Harrington of Pioneer. “However, that certainly is an option as further Optimum Aquamax hybrids are introduced.”