Evaluating Open-Pollinated Corn Varieties

2003 Annual Report for LNC01-188

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2001: $75,300.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Zeno Wicks, III
South Dakota State University

Evaluating Open-Pollinated Corn Varieties


Evaluation of 10 environments in 2003 demonstrated that open-pollinated corn could be economically feasible for corn producers and small companies in the northern Corn Belt. Three replications of a NC+ hybrid check, a variety of choice, plus three open-pollinated populations adapted to a particular region (north or south) were evaluated. In both regions, the open-pollinated populations had lower grain yields than the commercial hybrids. These results are similar to our 2002 findings and to those previously reported (Troyer, 2001). However, economic feasibility can be demonstrated (Table 1). Assuming annual differences in seed costs (including technology fees) of $30/a, each region had open-pollinated varieties that demonstrated comparable profitability.

Objectives/Performance Targets

1. Assess agronomic performance and economic viability of open-pollinated corn varieties and varietal hybrids.
2. Produce a manual and CD-ROM video with pertinent breeding and technical information that will instruct producers in improving and propagating open-pollinated varieties.
3. Increase awareness and knowledge of open-pollinated corn though workshops, seminars, and field tours.
4. Gain feedback from producers.


1. Agronomic performance was assessed for open-pollinated corn populations. Preliminary results suggest that yields are similar to those previously reported. However, based on a primitive economic analysis, this study demonstrates that some farmers could be profitable by utilizing open-pollinated populations in their operations.
2. Instructional materials will be produced concluding a comprehensive economic evaluation (including an input cost analysis) of the data across years and locations.
3. The 2002 results were reported at the 2003 North Central Regional Corn Breeding (NCR 167) meetings and the latest results will be shared at the 2004 NCR-167 regional meetings. Information was shared during 2003 field tours throughout four states. Findings were also reported in experiment station bulletins.
4. Overall, producer comments were favorable toward the open-pollinated corn varieties. However, standability due to drought conditions was a concern.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Assuming annual differences in seed costs (including technology fees) of $30/a, the use of top performing variety crosses can be a profitable alternative in small- to medium-sized farms. Profitability can be increased if corn prices are not high, kernel quality is improved, and yields reduced by environmental stresses are improved.


Derrick Exner

Iowa State University
Kendall Lamkey

Iowa State University