During the K-State Extension Agronomy Night held in Independence, Kan., Southeast Area Agronomist Doug Shoup covered a variety of areas during his crop update.
After last summer’s high temperatures and low rainfall, Shoup’s discussion of drought tolerant corn was particularly timely.
The agronomist told producers the ongoing development of hybrids capable of producing grain with less rainfall may accelerate an acreage shift away from grain sorghum and wheat as well as stabilizing non-irrigated corn yields.
Current drought-tolerant releases are Syngenta’s Agrisure Artesian and Optimum AQUAmax from Dupont/Pioneer. Both are traditionally-bred hybrids selected from high drought-stress environments, Shoup said.
Transgenic drought-tolerant hybrids are currently being developed by Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta.
Shoup said drought-tolerant hybrids may perform better than some hybrids in low-rainfall situations but emphasized they are not drought-proof.
He suggested that growers compare drought-tolerant hybrids with their best current hybrids.
Shoup noted that corn is the most responsive crop to additional water. Once the minimum water threshold is met, corn will produce about 13 bushels for each additional inch of water.
One of the benefits of drought tolerant corn, Shoup said, is that it may enable growers to plant at higher populations. This would allow the producer to maintain a proper plant population in case of favorable moisture in the summer, yet provide some protection against having too high of a population in a drought year.
Making the most of any corn hybrid demands good fertility and Shoup pointed out that the price gap between urea and UAN, compared to anhydrous ammonia, has narrowed.
The best nitrogen source depends, he said, on how the N will be applied.
Shoup said placing nitrogen four to six inches in the soil, beneath the microbial layer, is the best method regardless of source. Incorporation of some type, he said, reduces the risk of urea volatilization.