- Agronomic: corn
- Education and Training: demonstration
- Production Systems: agroecosystems
Demand for organic corn grain is increasing. Variety selection is a key step in successful corn production and a growing number of organically produced corn varieties are becoming available. Organic farmers are asking university researchers to help them evaluate performance of certified organic varieties. Our overall goal is to identify organic corn varieties best suited for organic grain production in three distinct production regions of the Corn Belt. Activities focus on two objectives: 1) evaluate the agronomic performance and grain quality of organic certified varieties in pure stands 2) investigate the potential benefits of mixing corn varieties to enhance grain yield and quality. We propose to establish three replicated variety performance trials on certified organic research land in each of three states, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio, for a total of 18 tests over a two-year period. Varieties evaluated will include organically produced hybrids and open pollinated varieties (OPVs) marketed in each state. In addition, five evaluations of varietal blends will be conducted in each state using replicated on-farm strip tests for a total of 30 tests over a two-year period. Data collected will include grain yield, test weight, emergence, seed germinability and vigor, early season vigor, canopy closure, stalk rot and lodging, insect pest/disease injury, weed rankings, grain protein, oil and starch. Results of the trials will be presented at field days and summarized in a project report, which will be publicized in newsletters, and the popular farm press and printed for distribution to organic farmers. Results will be posted on the national Organic Agriculture Consortium’s website (OrganicAgInfo) and relevant individual state websites. Evaluation will be based on farmer participation, questionnaires, and requests for test results.
Project objectives from proposal:
The short-term outcome of this project is to increase farmer access to research based information on organic corn variety performance in pure and mixed stands. The intermediate term outcomes of the project are to increase the yield and income of farmers through selection of corn varieties with improved performance and quality in organic crop production. The long term outcomes are to increase the sustainability of organic grain farming systems by optimizing selection of corn varieties for production, quality, economic return, and biodiversity. This project addresses NCR-SARE broad based goals of improving the profitability of farmers by helping them identify the best performing corn varieties for their region. If our hypothesis that certain varieties will perform better in mixed than in pure stands, this project will also support the NCR-SARE goal of sustaining and improving environmental quality by increasing crop genetic biodiversity. The scope and scale of this multi-state organic crop testing project will send a signal to seed companies that a strong demand exists for non-GMO (genetically modified organism) corn across the Corn Belt, which warrants continued development of non-GMO corn hybrids.