Drought stress is the primary challenge to high corn yields in North America and most other corn-producing regions of the world. This is because even temporary moisture deficits reduce corn yields, and such deficits occur in most non-irrigated production fields every year. With multiple events or extended periods of drought, the accumulated stresses on the corn plant can result in significant yield loss, even though today’s hybrids are much more tolerant than those of the past.
According to a recent issue of Pioneer’s Crop Insights, the company’s current strategy for improving drought tolerance of corn hybrids by integrating these three approaches:
- Continual improvement of Pioneer’s germplasm base and hybrids through conventional breeding, selection and testing
- Use of new genetic tools and breeding techniques applied to native corn genes (“Drought I” program)
- Identification and incorporation of transgenic sources of drought tolerance (“Drought II” program)
The article also will describe hybrid traits that contribute to drought improvement, and Pioneer agronomy research to help growers improve hybrid performance under drought stress.
Here’s a quick summary of the article:
- Drought tolerance is a complex trait, much like yield. For this reason, a multi-dimensional research strategy is needed to ensure continual improvement of hybrids.
- Pioneer’s research strategy includes traditional germplasm improvement, use of Pioneer’s proprietary breeding tools for native genes, as well as transgenic approaches.
- Pioneer’s germplasm improvement program is building on decades of drought research that has led to products with a distinct performance advantage under drought stress and the ability to yield competitively under better growing conditions.
- Pioneer’s experienced researchers and network of “managed stress environments” and other drought research centers give them an advantage in both traditional and transgenic breeding approaches.
- Pioneer’s drought improvement strategy fully leverages their proven marker-assisted selection capabilities and trademarked Accelerated Yield Technology (AYT) system for advancing key traits into elite genetics.
- Pioneer has identified a number of transgenes that improve the corn plant significantly for resource capture and utilization. Transformed hybrids have more prolific silking, higher retention of ear-tip kernels, and improved yields.
- Pioneer’s industry-leading agronomy research has helped growers improve yields under drought by using early corn early or ecofallow production systems, optimizing plant population, and planting the right product on the right acre.