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Drought-Tolerant Varieties Offer Solutions for Any Growing Season

15 August 2013

GLOBAL - Producers selecting corn hybrid products for corn-on-corn fields face special challenges with trash on top of the soil and root mass underneath.

To overcome these obstacles, according to DuPont Pioneer experts, growers should select hybrids with proven performance under diverse environments and stresses. One option is products with above average drought tolerance. In these fields, root mass may be reduced due to crowding, hence limiting water uptake the same as during drought conditions. The good news is that growers have choices among hybrids that thrive in water-limited conditions.

Products from the Optimum® AQUAmax™ family have been locally tested and have shown an 8.7 percent yield advantage in water-limited environments and a 2.6 percent yield advantage in favorable growing conditions. During the last two years more than 19, 207 comparisons across the past two growing seasons demonstrate that Optimum AQUAmax products are a good choice in stressful environments like a corn after corn rotation.

Equipped with strong agronomics and the latest technology packages, Optimum AQUAmax hybrids are designed to make more out of every drop. The unique trait package includes advanced stomata control for more efficient use of H2O, aggressive silking for improved kernel set, deeper kernels that maintain yield under late-season stress, and an efficient root system that captures deep soil moisture. To see how Optimum AQUAmax optimized water under dry conditions in the Western U.S. Corn Belt during summer 2013, visit the Optimum AQUAmax page on and click the Watch It Grow tab.

Pioneer researchers use native genes from a wide background of maize genetics to help improve drought tolerance within Optimum AQUAmax products. Because drought is a complex challenge, many genes are involved in a plant’s ability to tolerate hot, dry conditions.

Other characteristics to consider for corn-after-corn production include:

  • Hybrid maturity - Select an appropriate maturity that matches corn planting date and seasonal growing degree units. Account for cooler soils and slower emergence under high-residue conditions associated with corn following corn.
  • Defensive traits - Choose the highest-performing genetics with defensive traits including standability and disease and insect resistance required for this production system.
  • Seeding rate - Extensive field research has documented the value for planting higher seeding rates in more productive areas and decreasing rates where productivity is lower. However, sometimes pushing plant populations imposes additional stress on the plant. Selecting hybrids such as Optimum AQUAmax, which are designed to handle that stress, allows you to get more ears per acre by increasing the seeding rate.

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