New Hybrid Cornstalk Grows Shorter, Said To Be Less Pervious To Severe Weather

14 June 2022

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In Minnesota we are used to tall cornstalks, but stormy weather has scientists thinking about growing much shorter corn.

“The question we get most often is how soon can I have access to that on my farm,” said Chris Sauder, Bayer Crop Science.

In recent years, Minnesota has been pummeled by thunderstorms and high winds. No one knows that better than farmers. So instead of growing tall, traditional cornstalks shorter may soon be better.

“We feel like short-statured corn is going to be one of those technologies that’s going to help growers weather some of those extreme events in to the future,” said Sauder.

Bayer, the same company that makes aspirin, has a crop science division that’s testing a new breed of corn. Conventional stalks grows to about 9 or 10 feet. But that makes them susceptible to being snapped off or even uprooted in high winds.

This type of corn would grow to be about 6 feet high and it would be planted much closer together than conventional corn is.

Which could also allow farmers to grow a larger crop. Bayer has used strong wind created by helicopters, to put their new product to the test. And they say the results have been positive.

“It often takes many years. They often start this development 8 to 10 years prior to coming to market,” said Dave Nicolai, University of Minnesota Extension.

Nicolai said Bayer is far from alone when it comes to testing short-stature corn. He said questions still remain when it comes to harvestability. But in a state where weather is a constant factor, the seeds of science are being planted for a shorter alternative.

“I would expect that we’ll have an opportunity to look at it in the not-too-distant future,” said Nicolai.

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