Corn Germplasm Field Day focuses on increasing yield, improving quality

Stephanie Veldman

As corn remains necessary for Iowa’s economic stability, the push to ensure its successful future and stable source of revenue continues.

The fifth-annual Corn Germplasm Field Day will be held today from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Committee for Agricultural Development (CAD) Uthe Farm. The demonstrations are free and open to the public.

All the demonstrations will center around the project Germplasm Enhancement of Maize (GEM).

GEM is produced cooperatively between the U. S.s Department of Agriculture, Iowa State researchers and private companies.

The main goal of the project is to study corn containing genes that increase yields as well as improve quality traits.

“It started with a project called Latin American Maize Project that was formed because there was a concern the germplasm from Latin America wasn’t being properly cared for,” said Linda Pollak, GEM coordinator and assistant professor of agronomy. “Pioneer donated $1.5 million to the USDA to start the program.”

At the field day, there will be demonstrations to illustrate what progress CAD has made throughout the year with breeding exotic plants, she said..

“We take breeding crosses from the Latin American [corn] population, which we think would have enhanced traits in the U.S.,” Pollak said.

Susan Duvick, GEM lab manager, will be presenting a program on how to use the exotic corn germplasm to alter the composition traits of corn. This is accomplished by adding protein and altering the amounts of starches and oils.

“It is important for people to understand there are other aspects of corn that are important besides high yield,” Duvick said. “New traits help open up new areas to make new products.”

Other demonstrations will include finding pest-resistant genes and getting higher yields through exotic corn plants.

To get to the CAD Uthe Farm, go 6 miles south of Lincoln Way on County Highway R38. Then travel west 3.5 miles on 290th Street, which is a gravel road. The plots will be marked clearly on the south side.

For more information about the field day, the GEM project or future events, call Pollak at 294-7831.