Short-stature hybrid corn, likely to debut next decade, could dramatically boost crop yields

Credit: Delta Farm Press

Farmers who have waded and stumbled through corn decimated by green snap or stalk lodging may be in luck in a few years. Bayer CropScience is developing what it calls short-stature corn that company officials say will likely debut early next decade.

“Over the next two to three years, we will demonstrate them (short-stature hybrids) to growers and give them a feel and sense of how they will work on their farms,” says Bob Reiter, Bayer CropScience head of research and development….

Short-stature corn….hybrids [are] several feet shorter than normal hybrids. Harry Stine, founder of Stine Seeds, and Stine scientists have also worked the concept. That firm’s 6- to 8-foot-tall plants look different from today’s typical 9- to 11-foot-high hybrids. More upright leaves and smaller tassels enable plants to harvest more sunlight.

“As you shorten up the crop, it also makes the crop far less susceptible to key problems, such as stalk lodging and also green snap,” says Reiter. “Those problems can be significant. There have been whole fields that have snapped during the growing season.”

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Just by themselves, Stine tests show the more equidistant spacing raises yields an average 3% to 9%. Matching the right high-population hybrid with the right field could pick up another 5% to 12% in yields. Meanwhile, proper fertility, including regularly scheduled N applications, can boost yields another 10% to 20%.


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