The announcement that new water-conserving corn hybrids will be available this year marks the beginning of a new era that will dramatically change the outlook for conserving the Ogallala aquifer without damaging the economy of the Texas High Plains region, said David Gibson, Executive Director of the Texas Corn Producers Board.
“A new generation of water-conserving crops is no longer just theoretical; it’s a reality,” Gibson said. “The development of new, water conserving crops will enable us to conserve the Ogallala without the need for severe pumping restrictions that will harm the economy and eliminate jobs.”
DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred, a major producer of corn seed, announced recently that it will launch, for planting this year, a new generation of corn hybrids developed to deliver higher yields with less water. According to Pioneer, the new hybrids show a 5 percent yield advantage over current leading corn hybrids in water-limited environments after 223 trials from 2008 to 2010 in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and California.
“The water savings from this first generation of new crops is significant, but is just the beginning of a trend that will produce huge reductions in irrigation by the end of this decade,” Gibson said. “Researchers have conducted field trials in the past year that showed up to 40 percent water savings while producing the same amount of corn as current hybrids.
“Water savings of that magnitude will have enormous implications for groundwater policy. Through research and development by private companies and universities, we will be able to meet or exceed groundwater conservation goals without resorting to severe, government-imposed regulations that would harm our economy and produce job losses,” Gibson said.