Genuity DroughtGard Hybrids - Hydroefficiency at Work

Article Highlights:

  • With full import approvals in key export markets, farmers can market their grain more broadly this year and plant with confidence in 2014.
  • A systems approach to managing drought enables the potential for enhanced yield stability.
  • DroughtGard Hybrids can help farmers produce more bushels of corn in water-limited conditions, and they have the potential to contribute to conservation objectives by reducing water use.

Understanding drought and its mechanisms is complex. There is no magic solution to solving the impact of drought on a plant; however, research has advanced tremendously in recent years in hybrid selection and agronomic practices for drought-prone areas. Using biotechnology as a tool to address drought in a plant hasn’t been available—until now. In 2013, Monsanto brought farmers Genuity® DroughtGard™ Hybrids—corn seeds that have native drought-tolerance characteristics and a biotech trait to help them better manage the risk of drought stress. The seeds were grown under stewardship requirements while pending import approvals in key export markets. With the trait approval in China last year, Monsanto will remove the grain stewardship requirements, and grain will no longer be required to remain in the domestic market.

The System

Research into how crops tolerate drought conditions isn’t new or revolutionary. DEKALB®, Monsanto’s national brand for corn seed, has been rating its hybrids for drought-tolerance since the 1970s. What is new is that drought-tolerance is being improved via a systems approach. The selection of a hybrid for drought-tolerance is important, but so are the agronomic practices that a farmer uses. And, now, Monsanto, in collaboration with BASF, discovered a biotech trait that can give corn seed the enhanced ability to utilize water better. These three things—hybrid selection, agronomic practices and a biotech trait—have the potential to enhance yield stability for U.S. farmers when their farm is experiencing drought stress.

This systems approach helps a farmer manage his crop risk better during drought conditions.

Hydroefficiency

The biotech trait in DroughtGard Hybrids provides the corn plant the ability to slow down water consumption when experiencing drought stress. In other words, the plant sips water from the soil rather than gulps it when it’s dry. Monsanto calls it “hydroefficiency,” enabling the plant so it can endure drought stress for a longer period of time and give it a better opportunity to maintain its yield potential.

Product Launch and Approvals

In 2013, DroughtGard Hybrids launched in the Western Great Plains region of the United States in the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, western Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota. The hybrids were planted on the region’s dryland acres, areas where farmers are dependent on rainfall rather than irrigation. This area of the United States receives variable rates of rainfall every year, which can lead to drought conditions more often and more intense than other areas of the country.

Nearly every farm experiences some aspect of drought during a growing season. As Monsanto learns more about hydroefficiency and drought, the DroughtGard Hybrids system has the potential to be used across the United States and in other parts of the world. For example, the biotech trait in DroughtGard Hybrids is being tested in hybrids in Africa for Water Efficient Maize for Africa.

Summary

Nearly every farm around the world experiences some aspect of drought during a growing season. A drought in any length and at any time impacts a farmer’s crop and harvest. With Genuity DroughtGard Hybrids, a farmer is able to mitigate his risk of yield loss when his farm experiences drought stress.