There's More Than One Way to Use Drought-Tolerant Corn

You don't need super-dry conditions to benefit from this trait.

Published on: Jul 30, 2013

If you think a company's drought-tolerant corn is just for sandy soils or areas that are perennially low on rainfall, you may be missing the point of how these products work. That's at least true for products from some companies. While specific hybrids from certain companies have been positioned more for regions which typically get less water, other companies are trying to educate customers how their hybrids can be useful in many situations.

Syngenta sells its drought-tolerant corn under the Artesian brand name. Mark Lawson, Danville, a Syngenta agronomist, explains that he's still trying to help farmers understand the principle behind their corn. Syngenta's data shows that on average, the Artesian corn is about 16% higher yielding. In extreme drought last year it was up to 60% better yielding, but yields were at an extremely low level anyway.

Use water effectively: This is the time of year when corn needs lots of water. Hybrids such as Syngentas Artesian hybrids use water more efficiently during the season. Note the Artesian designation on the sign for this hybrid.
Use water effectively: This is the time of year when corn needs lots of water. Hybrids such as Syngenta's Artesian hybrids use water more efficiently during the season. Note the 'Artesian' designation on the sign for this hybrid.

"The real key is that this corn makes better use of water at all stages," he says. He adds that it's not so much that it is drought-tolerant, but that it can do the same job on les water at any point in the season.

"It's simply more effective and efficient when it comes to making use of water," he says. Last season shows that even hybrids such as those with the Artesian trait have their limits, under somewhat normal conditions the ability to utilize water more effectively is a real plus.

The other positive about Artesian hybrids is that the trait is non-GMO. The drought-tolerant hybrids from most other companies on the market so far are also non-GMO. Most companies are looking at GMO traits that would enhance water utilization to make the hybrids better candidates for planting in dry conditions, but so far the advances are due to progress in breeding programs.

The corn you plant someday may contain a combination of GMO and bred-in traits to make them more efficient at using water.