Transgenic corn hybrids are becoming more prominent in the Ohio State University corn performance trials.
Of the 237 entries evaluated in this yearâ€™s trials, 84 percent carried transgenic traits. Thatâ€™s 25 percent more than those evaluated in last yearâ€™s trials.
Transgenics is the science of introducing a gene from one organism or plant into the genome of another organism or plant. In crop production, Bt corn to control European corn borer and rootworm, and Round-Up Ready corn and soybeans for enhanced weed control would be examples of transgenics.
Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist, said the large number of transgenic hybrids evaluated in the trials indicate most corn hybrids will contain one or more Bt and/or herbicide resistance traits in the future.
â€œFive years ago, less than 15 percent of the hybrids we evaluated in our performance trials were transgenic,â€ said Thomison, who also holds an Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center appointment. â€œNow itâ€™s more than one-third.â€
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 40 percent of Ohioâ€™s 2007 corn crop consisted of biotech varieties, 15 percent more than last year. Of the various traited corn hybrid types â€” insect resistant, herbicide resistant and stacked genes â€” farmers grew more stacked gene (multi-transgenic trait) hybrids, increasing their acreage by 15 percent over last year.
The trials, conducted by Ohio State University Extension, are designed to evaluate corn hybrids based on a variety of performance characteristics, such as yield potential, percent moisture, stalk lodging, emergence and test weights of the grain. The results help growers select hybrids that not only yield well, but also can withstand a variety of environmental factors and growing conditions.
In this yearâ€™s trials, transgenic hybrids received high marks, especially in regards to high yields.
â€œOverall, triple-stacked hybrids generated the highest yields,â€ said Thomison. â€œEight of the top 10 yield hybrids are triple-stacked hybrids, one is a double-stack and one contains a single trait.â€
However, stacked traits did not necessarily ensure the highest yields, said Thomison.
â€œOf the bottom 10 hybrids, nine are triple-stacked hybrids and one is a double-stack,â€ said Thomison. â€œThis means that hybrids will perform differently, based on region, soils and environmental conditions, and growers should not rely solely on one hybrid characteristic or transgenic traits to make their product selection.â€
A detailed breakdown of hybrids evaluated in this yearâ€™s trial, by characteristic and region, can be found by logging on to www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/corntrials/.
The Ohio State University soybean performance trials, which serve the same purpose as the corn performance trials, are also available.
Nearly 30 percent of the entries evaluated have the ideal Phytophthora-resistant package, and less than 15 percent show low levels of partial resistance, said Anne Dorrance, an OARDC plant pathologist.
â€œThis is the highest proportion of entries in Ohioâ€™s performance trials with effective levels of partial resistance since 1997,â€ said Dorrance, who also holds an OSU Extension appointment. â€œPartial resistance will provide protection in all fields, in that it is effective against all races. It works by reducing the amount of root tissue that Phytophthora sojae can infect and never causes the stem rot phase.â€
Results of the soybean performance trials can be found by logging on to www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/soy2007/.
Miller is the agriculture and natural resources agent of Ohio State University Extension, Medina County. For more information, call Ohio State University Extension Medina County at 330-725-4911, 330-336-6657 or 330-225-7100, Ext. 9237. Visit the Extensionâ€™s Web page at www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~medi.