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Pioneer Ramps Up Corn Program
Two months after debut of its new parent company, Corteva Agriscience, Pioneer is coming out swinging with new hybrids from a revamped corn breeding program. Pioneer officials say new corn breeding advances using tools like double haploids and predictive analytics spurred an 11.8-bushel-per-acre average yield edge and 70% win rate for its 2019 corn hybrid class over competitive offerings, says Ryan Myers, Pioneer U.S. corn lead.
Myers and other Corteva Agriscience marketers and scientists briefed members of the agricultural media this week on this development and others at Pioneer’s Johnston, Iowa, headquarters.
Corn breeders use double haploids to speed hybrid development. It enables them to form a homozygous inbred in hybrid development in one year, compared with eight, says Myers. Meanwhile, precision phenotyping enables Pioneer corn breeders to make predictive decisions of the approximate 500,000 inbreds that Pioneer starts with, he says.
“We’re able to use these predictive analytics to choose the very best out of over half a million inbreds, and then start crossing them,” says Myers. Predictive analytics also enable Pioneer to simulate hundreds of thousands of growing seasons to predict hybrid performance.
Pioneer has also added another year of its Impact field tests before advancing products. “That extra year of testing has led to improved consistency,” says Myers.
Qrome is the platform for Corteva Agriscience’s molecular stack of multiple corn insect protection traits.
This stack contains two above-ground modes of action for pests like European corn borer, and two modes of action for below-ground pests like corn rootworm.
Introductory quantities of Qrome products were available in 2019. “In 2020, we will launch in a major way across all maturity zones in significant volumes for our customers,” says Neil Hoss, Pioneer U.S. corn lead.
These hybrids will also feature Lumigen, Corteva’s seed applied technology, says Brad Van Kooten, Pioneer U.S. category lead for seed applied technologies. This package includes early-season protection against fungal diseases and insects. It also features a new seed treatment called Lumialza that protects against corn nematodes.
“Corn nematodes are a silent yield robber,” says Van Kooten. On sandy soils, high concentrations can slice yields up to 20 to 30 bushels per acre, he says. On heavier soils, they still can silently rob farmers out of 5 to 10 bushels per acre in yields, he says.
Lumigen will be the standard seed treatment for Pioneer’s corn products. However, farmers can order seed with fewer seed treatment options, say Corteva Agriscience officials.