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AgriLife Research breeder develops drought-tolerant corn
Date:8/25/2008

ETTER At the end of the day, drought tolerance in corn has to equate to good yields and good quality, not just good looks, said a Texas AgriLife Research scientist.

Dr. Wenwei Xu, AgriLife Research corn breeder from Lubbock, is working with crosses between temperate and tropically adapted varieties of corn to find a drought-tolerant plant that performs well under reduced irrigation.

"With the continuing decline of the Ogallala Aquifer water level and increasing cost of pumping water, the use of drought-tolerant and high-yield corn hybrids is a key for sustainable corn production under limited irrigation," Xu said.

A field day was held recently at the North Plains AgriLife Research Station near Etter to demonstrate the differences between the parent plants and the offspring, or crosses.

"We hope to reduce the amount of water required for corn by at least 10 percent," Xu said.

Already the AgriLife Research program out of Lubbock has released four inbred lines of corn and numerous others are in the process for release, he said.

"The new multiple-stress-tolerant corn lines can be used to produce corn hybrids adapted to Texas and other southern states," Xu said. "They can be a powerful tool to save water and produce crops with yield and grain quality under stressful environments."

The research station at Etter is one of three test sites in Xu's program. The others are located at Halfway and Lubbock.

About 500 hybrids are being evaluated this year for either grain yield or silage yield and quality, he said.

Xu said there has been an increasing demand for silage corn in the Texas High Plains, and producers need new hybrids adapted to the local environment. Corn produced in the U.S. is primarily based on two races of maize, but there are more than 250 races identified around the world, Xu said.

"Most of our breeding efforts start by crossing tropical corn with temperate elite lin
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Contact: Dr. Wenwei Xu
wxu@ag.tamu.edu
806-746-6101
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications
Source:Eurekalert

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