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8/8/2012 Open Pollinated Corn Trials in Goal The goal of this project was to assess the performance of OP corn Southern Maryland varieties under Southern Maryland growing conditions. Reed, H. E.1* 1Agricultural If you want a Extension Educator, University of Maryland nice uniform Extension, Box 486 Prince Frederick, MD 20678 stand of corn you won’t find it here.Abstract MethodsBefore the adoption of hybrid corn only open pollinated (OP) corn was grown inthe United States. It is still grown in many developing countries. Given the • Randomized Complete Block Experimentsuccess of hybrid corn in modern agriculture why bother with OP corn? One • 6 OP Corn Varieties x 3 Replicationsreason has to do with sustainability. A field of hybrid corn contains geneticallyidentical plants. If one plant is susceptible to a pest, all plants are equally at risk. • No-till seeding into soybean stubbleA field of OP corn will have more genetic diversity. This reduces risk from pests • 20,000 seeds/acre, 36 inch rowsand adverse growing conditions. OP corn is less dependent on costly inputs andshould have better yield stability than hybrid corn. OP varieties may be a better • 90 lbs N, 40 at planting , 50 lay-byfit for local food, organic and home gardener production systems. Seed can be • 6 row plots, 4 inside rows hand harvested for yieldssaved and replanted, significantly reducing production costs. There areopportunities for farmers to do on farm selection and breeding for specific Varieties – See handout for descriptions.growing conditions or niche markets. Replicated trials with 6 OP varieties were Hickory Kingconducted in 2010 and 2011. Yields in 2010 averaged 74 bu/A for all plots. Reid’s Yellow DentYields in 2011 were unreliable as a result of severe damage from Hurricane Irene Tennessee Red Cobin early September. While 74 bushels does not seem very high by hybrid cornstandards one needs to consider lower production costs and that corn can Cherokee White Eaglepotentially be sold directly to consumers for approximately $1 a pound (56 Texas Gourdseedlbs/bu) or more, a gross return of $4,138 per acre in a relatively dry year (2010) Virginia White Gourdseedin Southern Maryland. Need Yield Data Why bother? Hybrid corn is a very successful crop. Variety 2010 bu/a 2011 bu/a 2 yr Mean • Sustainability issues – OP varieties have greater genetic diversity which may result in better yield stability. Hickory K 59 34 47 Reid’s YD 94 47 71 • OP varieties may be less dependent on costly inputs. Tenn RC 85 47 64 • These varieties may fill specialized high value niches for Cherok WK 78 50 64 local food and organic food and feed production Texas GS 61 40 51 systems. VA GS 68 44 56 Overall Mean 74 44 59 • Seed can be saved and replanted, reducing production Planted: May 7, 2010; Harvest Oct 7 Planted: May 20, 2011; Harvest Oct 4 costs and allowing possibility for breeding and selection 50 lbs N at planting; 90 lbs N total; 20,000 seeds/acre each year. 3 rep means. by growers. 1
8/8/2012Discussion Hurricane Irene Damage 9/1/2011Only clean mold free grain was included in yields. There were someplanting and emergence problems, particularly with Hickory King. Thiscould explain the low yields with that variety. The gourdseed varietiestend to have upright ears when mature, which allows water to collect inthe husk, resulting in mold. This may partially explain the low yields ofthe gourdseed varieties. More timely harvesting may be needed toreduce mold losses. It should also be possible to manipulate thischaracter with a breeding /selection program. The severe damageinflicted by Hurricane Irene in 2011 illustrates one of the problems withthese tall growing varieties. Breeding/selection of shorter varietieswould be desirable.The overall mean of 74 bushels per acre does not seem high by hybridcorn standards. However one needs to consider potentially lowerproduction costs and that corn could be sold to consumers forapproximately $1 a pound (56 lbs/bu) or more, a gross return of $4,138per acre in a relatively dry year. Some of the OP corn varieties will get quite tall. As corn breeders pay more attention to OP varieties this could change. There is also the possibility of growers producing varieties adapted to their own growing environments and markets through on farm breeding and Virginia White Gourdseed July 11, 2012 selection. Planted May 18, 2012. These plots have not been irrigated. Many hybrid corn fields in area showing drought stress. Conclusions OP corn varieties show some promise under Southern Maryland growing conditions and may fill an important agronomic niche. Breeding/selection programs are recommended to better match OP varieties with local environments. The OP varieties appear to have good drought tolerance under Southern MD growing conditions. Future Research – Research with winter legume cover crops with goal of reducing N rates. 2