Drought Dodgers

November 18, 2009 06:00 PM
 

Farm Journal Editors

There is no need to stress out. More research aimed at corn drought is on the way.
 
Pioneer Hi-Bred is expanding its corn drought research efforts at facilities in Plainview, Texas, and Manhattan, Kan.
 
These locations have traditionally focused on sorghum and now will have additional research on corn. The expanded facilities will allow Pioneer to establish managed stress environments, including needed irrigation systems. Native and transgenic traits will be evaluated and characterized at the research facilities.
 
Joe Keaschall, Pioneer corn research director, wishes there was a magical gene for the development of drought-tolerant hybrids. "But truth is, drought is a complex issue with yearly variations in the timing and intensity of water deficit and high-temperature stress,” he observes.
 
New yield test locations specifically targeted at drought product development have been established at the Manhattan facility. A breeding nursery has been established at the Plainview site, and several thousand inbreds are being evaluated. Also, limited irrigation sites have been established in Texas for targeted drought yield evaluation.
 
Both facilities will be dedicated to Drought I and Drought II product development initiatives. Drought I efforts combine native drought genes with needed traits in elite adapted inbreds for drought-prone areas. Drought II is focused on transgenic gene evaluation and integration into the most elite and adapted germplasm. Herbicide, insect and disease resistance will continue to be key traits for industry-leading drought hybrids.
 
Pioneer also conducts drought research in Garden City, Kan.; LaSalle, Colo.; York, Neb.; Woodland, Calif.; and Viluco, Chile.
 

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