Confidence in drought-tolerant corn performance
Syngenta has confidence in its drought-tolerant hybrids with Agrisure Artesian technology outperforming standard hybrids and other drought-tolerant hybrids on the market, according to Wayne Fithian, Syngenta technical product lead for Agrisure Artesian technology.
Unless the area of the country had one of the most extreme drought situations where crops simply could not grow, Fithian said Agrisure Artesian technology will show its strength in improving yields. The company is using the phrase “maximize yield when it rains, and increase yield up to 15 percent when it doesn’t.”
A photograph from earlier in the season in Ohio shows an Agrisure Artesian hybrid on the left compared to a non-Artesian hybrid on the right reacting to heat and drought. There are more than 800 locations where Artesian hybrids have been planted from the Northeast to the High Plains, and more than 80 percent of those acreages were planted by farmers, not researchers. Fithian admitted that the highest yields don’t always come from the prettiest looking plants that you see driving down the road. But with the Artesian hybrids, he said, “I’m confident if it looks better from the road then when the combine goes through the field the yield will be there, too.”
Validation that Artesian hybrids could meet that 15 percent increase in yield was proven in research and development prior to releasing hybrids for farmer planting. “All our validation work is based on yield under moderate to extreme drought,” Fithian said. And yield advantage is “based on the robustness of our data package.”
Drought-resistant hybrids come from three complex breeding approaches:
1) Traditional breeding with marker-assisted gene selection.
2) Native gene breeding techniques to bring selected genes from parents into a hybrid.
3) Genetic modification for a genetically engineered hybrid.
The current Agrisure Artesian technology hybrids are the result of using number one and two from the breeding approaches. It won’t be until at least 2015 before Syngenta anticipates having a GM drought-tolerant hybrid.
Syngenta has developed hybrids for more than just the most likely drought areas by cross breeding of hybrids that performed best for specific locations and also were identified as having characteristics for performing well in low-water conditions, according to Fithian. The marker assisted aspect allowed selecting hybrids with the specific genes that would positively impact yield when the plant was under stress. Individual genes were identified as necessary to be in the Artesian hybrids.