Farming has come a long way from hand-planting seeds centuries ago – and that’s in large part from the lessons learned by the stewards of the land. On-farm experience and knowledge from neighbors have long allowed farmers to adopt innovative practices to better determine what works for their farm and their family’s business.

The state’s checkoff program aims to drive this innovation through its research efforts. Each year, the Texas Corn Producers’ (TCP) research committee determines its research priorities, selects and funds research initiatives in the state. The goal: to provide scientifically proven insight for Texas farmers as they work to have a thriving farm year after year.

There are a variety of checkoff-funded research endeavors in the works this growing season. Including:

Optimizing nitrogen management with stabilizers in semi-arid corn production

Principal Researcher: Katie Lewis, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research

Overview: This research aims to improve the resource use efficiency of N fertilizer in the THP region by assessing the effects of N stabilizers on nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) when using UAN-32 and urea. To achieve this, a study will be conducted on irrigated acres.

Investigating Bt traits for corn rootworm efficacy, in-furrow sprays, and seed treatments for managing soil-dwelling corn pests

Principal Researcher: David Kerns, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research

Overview: This project will investigate utilizing Bt corn rootworm traits alone and in combination with insecticide seed treatments with and without the addition of in-furrow bifenthrin applications with pop-up fertilizer. Additionally, it will conduct tests to evaluate the efficacy of various corn ISTs at various rates for control of soil pests with emphasis on southern corn rootworm. Data generated will help identify the most cost-effective yet efficacious means to manage soil pests in corn in Texas.

Evaluation of Bt corn traits for efficacy to ear-feeding insect pests and mycotoxin contamination

Principal Researcher: David Kerns, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research

Overview: This project will investigate the ability of naturally occurring corn earworms’ ability to infest and damage Bt corn hybrids and then measure the incidence of mycotoxin contamination to determine its relationship to the amount of ear feeding detected. This data will support other projects’ data where we conduct bioassays to determine if corn earworms from Vip corn are resistant to Vip3A.

Soil nutrient sustainability

Principal Researcher: David Drake, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Overview: Texas corn producers have a multitude of choices and methods to provide corn nutrient management. One new choice that many corn producers are considering is a nitrogen-fixing microbe. This product is applied in-furrow at planting or as a seed treatment and is represented as providing up to 40 units of nitrogen to corn during the growing season. A 2023 replicated corn fertility study, with three nitrogen rates, demonstrated a yield response at a reduced nitrogen rate (110 units N as compared to 130 and 150). A 2024 study will be conducted to evaluate the product in-furrow and as a seed treatment at different nitrogen rates to help confirm the value of the product and refine local best management practices.

Comparison of 20- and 30-inch row spacings to optimize Texas High Plains’ limited irrigated corn production

Principal Researcher: Jourdan Bell, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research

Overview: The field experiment will be with a cooperating farmer under a center pivot split in a corn-cotton rotation. The field will be split and blocked by row spacing (20- and 30-inch) such that 30 acres are planted on 20-inch rows and 30 acres are planted on 30-inch rows. Four seeding rates will be evaluated on each row spacing to determine the optimum population for narrow row corn and evaluate the impact of seeding rate on the root water extraction, in-canopy temperature, relative humidity, and yield. Each seeding rate will be replicated three times within each row spacing block. The number of rows per plot and plot length will be based on the planter row units and coordinated with the cooperator.

Comparison of Nozzle Spacing on Soil Water Dynamics

Principal Researcher: Joseph Burke, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research

Overview: Water is the most limited resource for crop production on the Texas High Plains. Diminishing quantity and quality of irrigation water resources from the Ogallala Aquifer, coupled with high evapotranspiration potential leads to challenging conditions for agricultural producers. Maximizing water resources is essential to sustainable production in the region. Commonly, producers ask questions directed at the most efficient use of their water resources. The reason for conducting this research is to determine the most efficient spacing for nozzles in pivot irrigated systems that maximize these limited water resources.

TCP invests in projects like this year after year. Checkoff-funded research efforts have culminated in on-farm benefits for Texas corn farmers. Notably, this research resulted in the availability this growing season of FourSureTM – the next generation atoxigenic to mitigate aflatoxin. TCP’s research efforts are just one area the organization invests in as it aims to be a trusted resource that resolves challenges and creates economic opportunities for Texas corn farmers.

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