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Drought tolerance, N use efficiency in Pioneer's corn pipeline

Resistance to corn rootworm and European corn borer garner the lion's share of today's corn traits. But there's more coming down the pike.

This week, Pioneer Hi-Bred gave the agricultural media a look at what it has coming in its corn trait pipeline. They include:

  • Anthracnose stalk rot resistance
    This native trait has already been introduced into a number of Pioneer hybrids for 2009, says Tom Sauber, Pioneer research director. This trait helps reduce direct yield loss and lower lodging. Yield losses due to Anthracnose stalk rot can tally up to 40%, due to reduce ear size and stalk lodging.

Drought tolerance I and II
Drought I tolerance combines native drought tolerance Pioneer has historically selected from its genetic pool with drought tolerance derived from technologies like marker-assisted selection.

"It is meant for below 150 bushel per acre yield environments," says Sauber. "Its initial target is the western Corn Belt."

Drought tolerance I aims to boost yields 5% to 10% compared to standard hybrids in these areas. This trait may be on the market next year, but it’s more likely for 2011, pending regulatory approval. Local business teams will make decisions as to what other traits to include with Drought 1.

Drought II traits will combine transgenic events with the targeted drought screening. This combination -- aimed at a full range of environments -- is 5 to 7 years away from market.

Nitrogen use efficiency
This trait aims to boost yields through perks like improved plant uptake of nitrogen (N). "Early testing of leads shows a double-digit increase in reduced N environments," says Sauber. This trait, like Drought II, is in the proof of concept stage, 5 to 7 years away from market.

Increased yield
This trait uses genes specifically designed for increased yields. This is in the proof of concept phase, 5 to 7 years away from market.

Resistance to corn rootworm and European corn borer garner the lion's share of today's corn traits. But there's more coming down the pike.

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