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Souped-Up Corn Stalk Illustrates Drought Defying Capabilities

Souped-Up Corn Stalk Illustrates Drought Defying Capabilities
Nifty exhibit at farm show makes farmers consider how well hybrids use water.

Hats off to the creative minds at DuPont Pioneer for their recent farm show display. Not only have the breeders developed hybrids that are more efficient at using water without adding in bio-tech traits, but the marketing crew has figured out how to pique the interest of farmers with these products.

The giant corn stalk with roots that looked more like underground piping for a major office building screamed for attention. Whether you were looking to talk to anyone about seed or not, you had to see what this display was all about.

Piped for success: If every plant had this kind of water supply system underground, the drought wouldn't have been a big deal last year! DuPont Pioneer used this plant to catch attention.

The piping represented the roots of the Aqua-Max hybrid. The Aqua-Max trademark is the branding Pioneer is using to denote hybrids developed to be more efficient at utilizing water than other hybrids -- helpful if we see a reapeat of the 202 drought.

The valves and shut-offs plumbed into the piping on the roots sent a clear message – the roots could make better use of the water available with this type of arrangement. It may have been a 'corny' gig, pardon the pun, but it both caught attention and drove home the point.

Seed company spokesmen are not saying these hybrids are ready for desert-like drought conditions which existed in parts of Indiana last year. But they do say their data shows these hybrids can get the most out of the water that is there, and hold on longer. At some point if they don't get rain, those plants will also take a dive into the tank. The hope is that rain or relief from heat will come in time.

Other companies are marketing different versions of their own drought-tolerant hybrids under different names. Syngenta, for example, is offering Artesian hybrids. Right now these hybrids have been developed through conventional breeding programs by corn breeders. However, most major companies are eyeing bio-tech traits that could be added to hybrid lines with natural protection because of the way they use water, to improve the ability of these hybrids to perform under drought conditions.

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