Tynan, Texas farmer Edward Polasek is the first corn grower in Texas or the nation to plant Dekalb Genuity DroughtGard Hybrids commercially for 2013.
New this growing season, this product is Monsanto's latest tool to help farmers manage drought conditions. Drought hammered Texas producers in 2011 and 2012, and while there was sporadic rain (and snow) going into this spring, much of Texas remained in the grips of drought.
Polasek got all his drought-tolerant corn seed delivered on Feb. 19, and started planting corn Feb. 22, finishing within a six-day window on Feb. 27.
Texas is a big place, and he actually was planting his corn uninterrupted in southeast Texas, at the same time the Panhandle was getting its second-biggest snow at Amarillo in 79 years.
Polasek farms 50 miles north of Corpus Christi, and a mere 35 miles inland on the Coastal Bend. His worry is never snow—but tropical storms and hurricanes.
He would have planted all his corn in less than the six days, but his operation also includes a 30-acre test plot with 23 different corn varieties with Monsanto/Dekalb. That meant changing seed often.
In 2012, Polasek was one of about 250 leading, innovative farmers across the Western Great Plains selected to test this product through a trial program known as Ground Breakers.
Polasek became the first Ground Breakers participant in the U.S. to receive his shipment of DeKalb DroughtGard Hybrids for 2013 planting.
DroughtGard Hybrids combines the DeKalb brand's drought-tolerant genetics, developed through the brand's industry leading breeding program, also with the industry's first drought-tolerant biotech trait and agronomic practices.
This means that if drought does persist in 2013, Polasek will be armed with this powerful combination for some yield protection.
Polasek maintains a cotton, sorghum, and corn rotation with all of his crops grown in a dryland farming operation. He opts for one-third of his crop acreage in cotton, sorghum, and corn, respectively. But corn production always has demanded a little more water than cotton or sorghum, and so the DroughtGard Hybrids for corn this year is heaven-sent.
The Genuity DroughtGard Hybrids are part of a system combining germplasm selected for its drought-tolerant characteristics, the drought-tolerant biotechnology trait, and agronomic recommendations.
The system is designed to help the corn plant so it can use less water when drought stress occurs. This hydro-efficiency helps conserve soil moisture and minimize yield loss from drought conditions.
When the plant is under drought stress, a specific gene, cspB, from the bacterium, Bacillus subtilis, helps slow the corn plant's water uptake up to the flowering stage. This allows the plant to buy some time, and shift its water usage to a later time frame.
Polasek points out that there is no yield drag in a non-drought, non-stress year. In fact, with sufficient rain, he actually expects the drought-tolerant corn would outperform other corn by several bushels.
"We are really hoping the drought-tolerant corn will make a show," says Polasek.