On May 12, Texas Corn Producers (TCP) held its first installment of “Corn Conversations” – a virtual conversation about the organization’s efforts. TCP Executive Director David Gibson and board member Charles Ring, a farmer from Sinton, brought in a renowned plant pathologist to discuss his current project’s dive into the effects of bacteria to control fumonisin in corn in Texas, Colorado, and Kansas. The three highlighted the project’s intention to find a new, affordable tool to mitigate the prevalence and concentration of fumonisin in grain.

“Corn Conversations” is designed to give a glimpse into TCP’s efforts through the checkoff and association. This week’s installment featured one of the pillars for the state’s checkoff: research. Ring, the chairman for the checkoff’s research committee, emphasized the opportunity for exciting research advancements that are amplified through this particular research partnership with fellow corn organizations in Colorado and Kansas, as well as the National Corn Growers Association. Through this partnership, resources are expanded beyond what is available within individual state lines – giving the opportunity for advancements to benefit even more farmers.

Ken Obasa, Ph.D., a plant pathologist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in Amarillo, leads this collaborative research project. In 2019, Obasa began studying the effects of bacteria to control fumonisin in corn with the intention of finding a new, affordable tool to mitigate the prevalence and concentration of fumonisin in grain.

In the presentation, Obasa covered the project rationales and the research progress over the past year. He reviewed the weather and non-weather developments and its impact on the findings – as environmental conditions can have an impact on the prevalence of fumonsin. Obasa also went into the dynamics of his research, discovery tactics, and where he sees opportunities in the future of continuing this research.

“So far the progress has been mind-blowing,” Obasa said.

Obasa explained the project’s effort in working toward finding a naturally-occurring tool to combat a problem farmers currently have no way to mitigate. Because his goal is to find a naturally-occurring solution, he hopes there will be fewer hurdles to jump though on the regulatory front, which will expedite the process of getting this tool in the hands of farmers.

“Between weather and market volatility, if we can just take one negative away for our farmers, especially something that can affect the value of a corn crop, it would be huge and significant,” Obasa said.

To learn more about the biological breakthrough of mitigating fumonisin in corn, watch this Corn Conversations episode here.

To find out more about this and other research efforts funded by the corn checkoff board in Texas, click here.


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