Artesian corn hybrids may help growers manage 2014 season

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As growers across the Corn Belt embark on a new season, the age-old challenge of growing corn remains the same. Water, the most critical input to producing a successful crop, is variable and unpredictable in its availability from field to field, and even acre to acre. While variable rainfall may affect yields this season, growers can better manage weather conditions and optimize the conversion of water to grain by planting Artesian corn hybrids from Syngenta.

“While corn growers may not be able to predict how much rainfall they will get during the season or when they will get it, they can be assured that the crop they plant will make the most of the water it receives,” said Duane Martin, Ph.D., Syngenta product lead, commercial traits. “Artesian corn hybrids can help growers maximize yield by converting more water from the soil into more bushels of corn, compared to other hybrids. And even if weather and water conditions are optimal, Artesian corn hybrids have been proven to yield with the best in the industry, helping farmers grow more corn in almost any situation.”

Artesian corn hybrids represent an elite class of high-performing hybrids that are widely adapted across the Corn Belt and can help growers achieve more consistent corn production and profit potential on virtually any acre. These hybrids contain scientifically selected genes that provide multiple modes of action for season-long drought protection.

In 2013, Artesian corn hybrids were put to the test in more than 2,500 plots, bringing the total number of on-farm trials conducted since 2010 to more than 4,000.

Artesian corn hybrids have consistently matched or exceeded the yield of comparable hybrids in optimal growing conditions or under moderate drought stress. Under severe and extreme drought stress, Artesian corn hybrids have outperformed trial averages by nearly 14 percent over the past four years.1 In cases of extreme drought stress, Artesian corn hybrids have produced 40 percent higher yields compared to the plot average. The trial database included Syngenta and competitor hybrids with and without drought tolerance technology.

Instances of variable rainfall during the past four growing seasons abound—and Artesian corn hybrids have performed in spite of these challenges. “Before the real-world test of the 2012 drought, the question that was top-of-mind for growers and the agricultural community was, ‘Do Artesian corn hybrids work?’” said Martin. “These days, growers know Artesian corn hybrids work, and are looking deeper into the technology to understand why they work—and how this technology can help their farming enterprise.”

Martin points to the use of Managed Stress Environment (MSE) trials as the greatest differentiator in development and testing when comparing Artesian corn hybrids to the competition.

MSEs are research sites established by Syngenta at locations in North and South America where the prospect of in-season rainfall is highly unlikely. This lack of rainfall enables researchers to precisely control how much water plants receive and at what growth stages the water is administered through a sophisticated irrigation and monitoring system.

As Martin explained, “The ability to control water with such precision and simulate varying levels of drought—at specific growth stages—helps us understand how plants respond to stress at the gene level.”

The identification of multiple specific genes—representing multiple different modes of action to help protect plants against drought and optimize water all season long—led to the development of Artesian corn hybrids.

“Once identified and validated, the best versions of these genes, which are naturally found in the corn genome, are used to develop Artesian corn hybrids,” said Martin. “These elite genetics produce a class of hybrid that can deliver top-end yields whether the crop receives enough water or not.”

Artesian corn hybrids are available through Golden Harvest and NK seed brands and through licensing agreements with independent seed companies. Artesian corn hybrids are widely available for planting in most areas of the Corn Belt for the 2014 season, with the portfolio of Artesian hybrids expanding significantly in 2015 and beyond.

1For this research, Syngenta defines a yield environment of 50-99 bu/A as “Severe” and fewer than 50 bu/A as “Extreme”.

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