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Short Stature Corn

Corn may not be as high as an elephant’s eye in the near-future. Short-stature corn hybrids are being developed which are several feet shorter than normal hybrids. The goal is to help farmers increase potential productivity and yield by reducing crop losses. The concept may also enable growers to plant at greater densities in the future.

Calvin Treat is the head of crop technology in corn with Bayer Crop Science, which is breeding the petite plants. He says bigger isn’t always better. Shortening up the crop addresses what corn producers care the most about – yield and standability.

"We have seen significant improvement in both root lodging, summer root lodging, fall root lodging, in green snap, and in standability, lodging below the ear at the end of the season," says Treat. "So, it’s reduced crop loss."

He says short corn offers many other benefits, including accessibility with high-clearance equipment and different management techniques that allow for more precise application of crop protection products.

"As a grower decides that he wants to put on more fertilizer, side dress later in the season he’s got that ability," he says. "If he doesn’t want to take an airplane to spray an insecticide or a fungicide on a field, he can go in and do that with just a portion of the field because he could do it through the ground models."

Treat says short-stature conventionally bred corn was introduced to Mexican farmers this fall.  The technology should debut in North America with within the next five-years or so.

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