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Short Corn Might Be Coming Soon
Shorter, thicker cornstalks are less likely to blow over. It also allows application equipment into fields later in the season. Bayer Crop Science is betting growers in the U.S. and Canada will go for stalks that stop at about 7 ft. versus today’s 10-ft. or taller hybrids, if they can deliver competitive yields.
“We started developing short stature corn in Mexico in areas where they often have hurricane-like winds,” explains Dr. Calvin Treat, global corn and soybean technology lead, Bayer Crop Science. “We’re currently testing the trait in brand new and nearly new hybrids in the U.S.”
Commercial introduction in the U.S. is expected in 2022 or 2023. In the meantime, the short trait is being evaluated for yield and more.
Researchers are looking at different populations and row-width combinations. In the U.S., they are working with both biotech (insertion of a gene) and non-biotech (traditional breeding), which is required in Mexico.
“Canopy closure seems pretty similar between tall and short versions of the same hybrid at the same population and row width,” suggests Treat. “However, we have seen a good response to higher populations and narrow rows compared to taller corn.”
“We are still gathering data, but there may be faster root growth, which could reduce drought stress,” says Treat.
He suggests short corn could also help with wet conditions like much of the Midwest experienced in 2019, conditions that can cause nitrogen deficiencies. “It gives you about a week to 10 days broader window for getting in and side dressing with nitrogen,” he says. “That benefit also holds true if a field experiences a late season pest explosion. Short corn allows a different way to manage corn.”
Other possible benefits include in-season cover cropping. High clearance equipment could get in later in the season to plant between rows.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bayer U.S. – Crop Science, U.S. Communications, Building B2N, St. Louis, Mo. 63167 (www.cropscience.bayer.us).

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2019 - Volume #43, Issue #6