Results from actual on-farm trials in 2011 show Optimum AQUAmax corn hybrids from DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred provide a yield advantage for growers over competitive hybrids in water-limited environments as well as under more favorable growing conditions.
Field evaluations of the Optimum AQUAmax hybrids also are providing Pioneer corn breeders with an improved understanding of why these products perform better in drought conditions, giving researchers greater confidence as they move forward to develop still better products for producers.
Speaking at a press briefing at the Commodity Classic, Jeff Schussler, Pioneer senior research manager, said these research results show that Pioneer breeders have selected positive native traits to develop Optimum AQUAmax hybrids.
"It's very rewarding to see large-scale, on-farm field testing validate the performance of Optimum AQUAmax hybrids," Schussler says. "And we have begun to gather a solid understanding of the mechanisms of drought tolerance within these hybrids as we advance development of future Optimum AQUAmax hybrids."
Among almost 700 on-farm trials during the 2011 growing season, Optimum AQUAmax hybrids from Pioneer showed a 7.1 percent yield advantage on average over grower-selected checks within water-limited environments. In addition, the products offered top-end yield potential under more favorable growing conditions, providing a 3.4 percent average yield advantage over grower-selected checks in more than 7,000 comparisons.*
"The 2011 on-farm results showed that growers saw a performance advantage with Optimum AQUAmax hybrids," Schussler says.
Further study of Optimum AQUAmax hybrids shows the following advantages among these products compared to susceptible checks, demonstrating why they can yield better in drought conditions:
• Optimum AQUAmax hybrids show a clear advantage when drought stress occurs at flowering.
• The hybrids maintain a higher rate of photosynthesis during drought stress. This consistency can contribute to more consistent yields under stress.
• Optimum AQUAmax products exhibit traits which lead to reduced seasonal water use.
"There are many mechanisms that contribute to improved drought tolerance, and we're confident we're incorporating a broad base of native traits to deliver yield stability to our customers," Schussler says. "As we further understand what improves drought tolerance, Pioneer corn breeders can develop even better corn hybrids for growers."
"Our differentiated approach focuses on total product performance - enhancing yield performance during water deficits, agronomic stability under optimal water conditions, and the on-farm know-how to help manage water with the right product on the right acre," says Monica Patterson, marketing manager for Optimum AQUAmax hybrids.
Optimum AQUAmax hybrids are developed through Pioneer's proprietary Accelerated Yield Technology (AYT) system. This suite of tools, including molecular breeding techniques, allows research to rapidly scan and identify genes responsible for increasing yields and other beneficial traits. The AYT system allows Pioneer to bring products with key native genes to market faster. In 2011, the Pioneer research network included eight managed stress testing locations across the U.S. and Chile and more than 8,000 on-farm comparisons, product advancement tests and research trials.
"Drought is a complex issue and can affect crops differently depending on the geography and stress factors of each environment," Schussler says. "There is no single gene or 'silver bullet' solution for the drought complex. Managing crops in drought-stressed environments is critically important to achieving performance results, and Pioneer continues to partner with growers to offer the best management suggestions to help maximize profit while minimizing risk."