Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Corn Hybrid Advances and Drought

This summer’s drought has many farmers thinking back to the drought of 1988.  Corn crops were devastated and many growers weren’t able to recover from the loss, forcing them out of business after 45% of the nation’s crops were destroyed.

While the lack of rain and the high temperatures have definitely had an effect on the corn yield this year, advances in corn genetics have certainly made a difference.  Seed companies have been able to breed certain properties into the corn that allows the plants to handle these types of stresses more easily.  For example, corn has been bred to have bigger and deeper root systems to help with water uptake deeper in the soil profile.  They have also included properties that make corn much more efficient in its utilization of water and nutrients.  Current hybrids aren’t immune to the stress, but they will tolerate the stressors for much longer.

Other advances made include pest-resistant corn hybrid traits, such as Bt and Rootworm.  While these traits don’t directly increase a crop’s yield or tolerance to drought, they can protect a plant’s roots from pests like rootworm, giving the plant a better chance to take up available water and nutrients.  With growers reducing tillage and increasing corn on corn acres, the rootworm trait has provided farmers with protection that is certainly needed in the Midwest.

If you have any questions about seed hybrids, contact one of our Seed Agronomists at Asmus Farm Supply.

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