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Corn Varieties and Breeding

The state’s corn variety performance results conducted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Research is published annually in the High Plains Journal.

Click here to access the 2015 Texas Corn Seed Book publication

AgriLife Research posts its results as they’re available, HERE.


The Texas Corn Producers Board is currently funding the following research projects related to corn varieties and breeding:

Corn hybrid and population effects on grain yield losses during the early reproductive growth stage

Abstract: As irrigation water resources become limited due to declining well capacities and/or groundwater restrictions across the Texas High Plains, corn producers in the region are seeking practical production options to maximize grain yield with limited water. Corn yield is particularly sensitive to water stress at anthesis. Many of the drought tolerant hybrids are able to avoid yield losses by maintaining a short time interval between anthesis and silking even under water stress. However, the overall yield performance of both drought tolerant and non-drought tolerant varieties will depend on other factors such as plant populations and root morphologies. This research will evaluate the response of two drought tolerant and one non-drought tolerant corn hybrids at two plant populations and two irrigation capacities (6.29 and 3.14 gal/minute/acre). Measurements and interpretation of results will emphasize how each variety copes with water stress in terms of water use and carbohydrate partitioning, especially during the early reproductive growth stages, and how this influences grain yield and water use efficiency.

Investigators: Jourdan Bell, Assistant Professor, Agronomist, Texas A&M AgriLife, Amarillo; Robert Schwartz, Research Soil Scientist, USDA-ARS, Bushland, TX; Qingwu Xue, Assistant Professor of Crop Stress Physiology, Texas A&M AgriLife, Amarillo

Yield and economic return of Bt and brought tolerant corn under variable water inputs and insect pressure

Abstract: Dryland and irrigated corn producers often need to make hybrid choices under different drought risk, input costs, and irrigation restrictions. Our work focuses on the question: Do Bt and drought tolerant traits stabilize yield and economic return across the range of natural water inputs seen in corn production areas, more than off-setting the added cost of these improved ‘traited’ hybrids? Known information includes seed costs, projected market value, and pre-plant soil moisture profiles. We are working to add yield potential and related insect damage for hybrids grown in different soil moisture mimicking years of optimal rainfall to drought. In past TCPB-supported work, we have evaluated yield and economic return of a select group of Bt and drought tolerant corn under variable water inputs and insect pressure. Yield potential and economic return was most stable with selected hybrids with stacked Bt and drought tolerant genes (added value traits). Other trait configurations did not provide similar economic stability across different soil moisture mimicking years of optimal rainfall to drought. In 2016, we will use an expanded group of hybrids with stacked Bt and drought tolerance traits and compare them to non-traited lower cost sister hybrids. Details can be found HERE.

Investigators: Michael Brewer, Field Crops Entomology, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Corpus Christ; Mac Young, Farm Assist Program, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Corpus Christi, TX; Dana Porter, Ag. Engineering, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Lubbock.

Texas location support of the Genomes to Fields (G2F) initiative

Abstract: The Genomes to Fields (G2) project is a public-private partnership involving over 30 cooperators across the country which seeks to translate maize genome information to benefit growers, consumers and society. The goal is to develop approaches to understand the function and relevance of corn genes and alleles across environments; to get at the nature of genotype by environment (GxE) interactions in corn; and to determine how specific genes and alleles affect plant growth during development. It is a recognition that the same variety (and the same genes) are not the best for every environment; this recognition is critical for development of corn hybrids that can withstand stressful environments of Texas. The project was first initiated by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board in 2013, and the Texas A&M corn program has played a key role each year in providing experimental seed and leadership in field activities; increasing the relevance of both the hybrids screened and the methods used to Texas growers. Specifically we will grow 500 hybrid plots (250 unique varieties, mostly replicated twice) and take measurements of flowering time and plant height (to assess adaptation and agronomics), plant population (necessary for later statistical modeling), yield, test weight and moisture. Additional data includes in-field weather station measurements every 30 minutes; all entries genotyped with millions of genetic markers; testing of usefulness of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and ground phenotyping vehicles to make additional measurements. As a large cooperative project, findings are made public for the benefit of growers, companies, researchers and society. The end result of this data collection project will be the ability to identify important genetic loci, in relevant hybrid material, for companies and the public sector to use to improve corn for growers.

Investigator: Seth Murray, Association Professor, Texas A&M University

Assessing effectiveness of Bt corn against corn rootworm in Texas and effects of reduced irrigation regimes on injury to corn caused by corn rootworm

Abstract: This project addresses the “Corn production and management – insects” priority of the Texas Corn Producers Board and will focus on the long-term management of corn rootworm in Texas in context of diminishing effectiveness of Bt corn hybrids and the importance of improving water efficiency in corn production. We will survey cornfields in the major corn-growing areas of Texas and assess the status of possible resistance to the commonly used Bt corn hybrids expressing toxins that target corn rootworm. In addition to the surveys, we will begin the establishment of long-term continuous corn research plots at the Conservation and Production Research Laboratory in Bushland with a goal of creating high-pressure sites to test how reduced irrigation regimes affect injury levels inflicted to corn by these pests. Outcomes of these activities will have immediate benefits to corn producers in Texas. We will be able to put forth recommendations on corn rootworm management based on the status of possible resistance of corn rootworms to commonly used Bt corn hybrids in Texas. Decreasing input costs is a priority to producers and we will be able to recommend alternative corn rootworm management tactics if Bt corn hybrids used predominantly in Texas are no longer effective. In the future we will also be able to recommend specific watering regimes that reduce water use while maintaining corn tolerance to injury caused by corn rootworm and mitigate yield losses caused by this pest.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ada Szczepaniec, Entomologist, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Amarillo

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