Three Nebraska corn producers say they are ready to increase their plant populations in dryland and water-limited irrigation situations. The three—Phil Starman of Elgin, Mike Lutz of Benkelman and Brian Evans of Osmond--were on a panel in the Pioneer building at Husker Harvest Days to review on-farm research results on planting the company's new Optimum AQUAmax hybrids.
Pioneer launched Optimum AQUAmax hybrids in January 2011, targeting them for dryland and water-limiting environments in the western Corn Belt. The hybrids contain a collection of native corn traits that improve water access and use, delivering higher yields in water-limited conditions, said Monica Patterson, senior marketing manager.
In on-farm comparisons and research trials, these new generation hybrids have shown a 5% yield advantage, on average, over leading commercially available competitor and other Pioneer brand corn hybrids, Patterson said. From 2008 to 2010, AQUAmax hybrids were tested in 223 water-limited efficiency trials in Nebraska, California, Kansas, Colorado and Texas.
Lutz farms in the Upper Republican Natural Resources District in southwest Nebraska where a groundwater allocation program limits him to pumping 13 acre-inches a year. "AQUAmax will work in this environment for me," he said. "I no-till and do some eco-fallow on my farm, so I don't know what more I can do with my management practices."
Seventy-five percent of Lutz's acres are irrigated, most under limited-water conditions, and 25% is dryland. "I like to push the envelope, so I appreciate that I can increase populations by 5,000 in these conditions and obtain higher yields."
Starman also increased his plant population with AQUAmax in 2010 trials on his farm in north central Nebraska. "August was hot and dry, but in the comparison plots at harvest the AQUAmax hybrid still had green tissue vs. the conventional hybrids which were completely dried out," he added.
Evans said he produced yields in his 2010 comparisons by at least 10 bushel per acre with AQUAmax vs. his traditional hybrids.
Pioneer had limited availability of the hybrids in 2010, but expects to have approximately 1 million units of the AQUAmax seed available in 2012. The three panelists all indicated they would increase planting of the hybrids next spring.