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

es," he said. "Then we select for desirable traits to broaden genetic diversity and introduce useful genes from exotic corn to improve stress tolerance, agronomic productivity, disease resistance, insect resistance and value-added grain characteristics."

Xu said some of the experimental hybrids they are working with have produced the same silage yield under irrigation equaling 75 percent evapotranspiration as with 100 percent evapotranspiration irrigation.

Evapotranspiration is the loss of water from the soil both by evaporation and by transpiration from the plants, and is reported on a daily basis through the Texas High Plains Evapotranspiration Network ( http://txhighplainset.tamu.edu/ ).

Bruce Spinhirne, AgriLife Research associate based in Lubbock, said they reduced the irrigation on a few hybrids by 50 percent and had a severe yield and quality limitation, so they followed that by the 75 percent water application.

Those results are due in part to the use of stored moisture in the soil profile, Spinhirne said.

"At 75 percent (evapotranspiration), you have 3 to 4 inches of available moisture that is used, where if you are watering at 100 percent, it is wasted," he said.

The average silage yield of 20 corn hybrids at two locations (Etter and Halfway) was 26.84 tons per acre under 75 percent evapotranspiration irrigation, just slightly lower than the 27.49 tons per acre under 100 percent evapotranpiration irrigation, Spinhirne said.

However, he said, there were significant differences among hybrids in each environment.

"One of our experimental hybrids produced the same amount of silage in both locations when irrigation was reduced from 100 percent to 75 percent," Spinhirne said.

"Developing and using new corn hybrids with improved tolerance to drought and other stresses is important and a viable water-saving approach," he said.


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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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