Consider the possibility: 480 bushels of corn per acre.

Pie in the sky? Science fiction? Wishful thinking?

Maybe not, says Texas AgriLife Extension agronomist Brent Bean.

“Some experts estimate the yield potential for corn to be about 480 bushels per acre,” Bean said during a grain seminar at the Blackland Income Growth conference in Waco. “A farmer made 312 bushels per acre last year in the Texas Panhandle in spite of the drought and record heat.”

He said Monsanto has stated a goal of doubling yields and decreasing production cost significantly by 2030. Other seed companies are also working toward yield-enhancing technology.

Reaching that yield potential will include selecting good genetics but also will demand that farmers protect that potential once the seed is in the ground.

Yield reductions come from abiotic losses such as drought, as well as from biotic losses such as weed competition and damage from insects and diseases.

Transgenic hybrids have already contributed to increasing corn yields and will continue to do so, Bean said. Adoption of GMO corn has lagged soybeans and cotton a bit. “Soybean adoption is at 91 percent, cotton is at 88 percent and corn is just more than 80 percent.”

Texas yields have trended up for the last decade, averaging an increase of 2.2 bushels per acre a year. “In the Panhandle, where yields are typically higher than in other parts of the state, that 2.2-bushel-per-acre-per-year average still holds,” he said. Last year’s drought might slow that a bit but the upward trend should remain.