For years, seed companies have studied and tested genetics to help a corn plant survive drought and high heat conditions. Pioneer Hi-Bred was the first to announce that it has a line of drought-tolerant hybrids ready for planting. Called Drought I, the new hybrids are expected to produce a 6% increase in yield compared to the best current hybrids when grown in the same climate. Native genes are used for this line, which should be available this year in the dryer areas of the Corn Belt.  

As all the seed companies learned, a corn plant’s survival in drought conditions involves many complex processes and genes. Pioneer focused on helping a plant to silk and fill kernels to the tip quickly and under stress. Pioneer is looking at other traits as well and expects to market a transgenic drought-tolerant line in a few years.

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