Evaluating the Potential of Open-Pollinated Field Corn for Growers in the Northeast

2002 Annual Report for LNE02-171

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $119,466.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $61,870.00
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Margaret Smith
Dept. Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell Univ.

Evaluating the Potential of Open-Pollinated Field Corn for Growers in the Northeast


During this first partial project year, we established strip trials in New York and New Hampshire and small plot trials in New York to evaluate open-pollinated corn varieties for silage and grain use. We have already collected data on plant development, morphology, yield, and silage quality. Additional data collection on grain quality, ear traits, and processing and cooking uses is underway. We held two field days and one winter meeting to introduce the project to farmers, extension educators, and other interested individuals. We have been pleased with the level of interest expressed in this work.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The general objective of this project is to provide information to growers in the Northeast about open-pollinated (OP) corn varieties. Field research is focused on characterization and comparative evaluation of OP varieties of corn. The complementary outreach goals are to make available an in-depth workshop and supporting documentation on seed saving techniques, to provide descriptive information to farmers and seed producers about OP varieties, and to make available agronomic evaluations and recommendations of OP corn varieties for grain and silage use. We identified the following performance targets as specific objectives of this work:

a. Forty growers in New York and New Hampshire will try OP corn varieties on their farms during this project.

b. Twenty-five interested growers and seed marketers will become aware of OP varieties with unique traits that might fit specialty markets.

c. Forty growers in the Northeast will learn how to save their own seed of OP corn varieties and a significant share of them will plan to begin seed saving.


With a start date of 15 April 2002, this calendar year represents only part of one year’s activity on this project. The major accomplishments were getting the project up and running, establishing field trials, collecting initial data, and conducting initial outreach activities to let people know about the project. Details are presented below by relevant project milestones.

Research Milestones:

a. Farmer collaborators decide to engage in research.

We contacted and engaged with five farmer collaborators in New York and one in New Hampshire, all of whom hosted trials on their farms. We also engaged farm managers and conducted trials at three research farms in New York and one in New Hampshire.

b. Farmers and researchers establish trials.

Strip trials to evaluate four promising OP varieties and two commercial hybrid checks were planted at three locations in New York and two locations in New Hampshire. Small plot trials to screen a broad range of OP varieties were established in New York. Varieties were grouped by maturity, with 26 OP varieties and two hybrid checks in the early maturity trial and 15 OP varieties and four hybrid checks in the late trial. Each was planted at three locations.

c. Researchers collect, analyze, and interpret data.

Data collected on New Hampshire strip trials included plant stand, plant height, stalk strength, and silage yield, moisture, and quality. Plant population, grain yield, grain moisture, and stalk and root lodging data were collected on New York strip trials; grain quality analysis is underway. Extensive data collection was done on New York small plot trials, including plant morphology, plant development, and yield data. Data collection is underway on ear traits and grain samples will be subjected to processing and eating quality analyses. Testing for the presence of Bt and Roundup-Ready transgenes will be done on saved seed.

Outreach Milestones:

a. 36 farmers attend field days each year.

Field days were conducted at Aurora, New York (1 August 2002) and at Freeville, New York (5 September 2002). A total of 108 farmers participated.

b. 300 farmers, extension educators, and seedsmen attend winter meetings and in-service presentations. A presentation was made to farmers and researchers focused on organic production systems on 15 November 2002, where 48 people were in attendance. Additional presentations are planned for upcoming winter meetings.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

We will have results to report from our first field season despite extreme drought pressure. A broad range of growers, extension educators, and field crop industry representatives are now aware of the project through field-day presentations and a first winter meeting presentation.


Jane Mt. Pleasant

American Indian Program, Cornell University
482 Caldwell Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
Office Phone: 6072551755