Nov 21, 2022 - News

Iowa's race for short, weather-sturdy corn

A photo of corn

Photo courtesy of Stine Seed Co.

Corn genetics is trending to far shorter stalks with some limited new varieties hitting fields next spring, Myron Stine, president of the Adel-based Stine Seed Co., tells Axios.

Why it matters: The stocky stalks produce higher yields and are more resistant to wind.

  • Short corn is planted closer together and can produce as much as 15% higher yield, Stine said.
  • They can also make it easier to apply herbicides, potentially lowering production costs.

Driving the news: Bayer — the nation's largest seed seller — plans to market short-corn varieties in 2024, the Wall Street Journal reported this month.

Yes, but: Stine — a company best known for soybean seeds — introduced some shorter corn varieties more than a decade ago.

  • CEO Harry Stine developed them after identifying how a "shading effect" from tall plants blocked light and hid the potential of shorter varieties in test plots.
  • It came after decades of testing and was not an intentional trait sought by Stine.
  • The company's scientists theorize that their varieties will not get much smaller.

By the numbers: Some of Stine Co.'s plants grow to just over seven feet, roughly two feet shorter than other common varieties. Some can grow more than 12 feet.

Bonus: The Stine Co. recently released a podcast about their research.

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