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On-Farm Testing Shows Optimum® AQUAmax™ Hybrids from Pioneer Hi-Bred With Performance Advantages

Pioneer corn breeders analyze why products yield better under drought stress

NASHVILLE, Tenn., March 2, 2012 – Results from actual on-farm trials in 2011 show Optimum® AQUAmax™ corn hybrids from DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred provide a yield advantage for growers over competitive hybrids in water-limited environments as well as under more favorable growing conditions.

Field evaluations of the Optimum AQUAmax hybrids are also providing Pioneer corn breeders with an improved understanding of why these products perform better in drought conditions, giving researchers greater confidence as they move forward to develop still better products for producers.

Speaking at a press briefing at the Commodity Classic, Jeff Schussler, Pioneer senior research manager, said these research results show that Pioneer breeders have selected positive native traits to develop Optimum AQUAmax hybrids.

“It’s very rewarding to see large-scale, on-farm field testing validate the performance of Optimum AQUAmax hybrids,” says Schussler. “And we have begun to gather a solid understanding of the mechanisms of drought tolerance within these hybrids as we advance development of future Optimum AQUAmax hybrids.”

Among almost 700 on-farm trials during the 2011 growing season, Optimum AQUAmax hybrids from Pioneer showed a 7.1% yield advantage on average over grower-selected checks within water-limited environments. In addition, the products offered top-end yield potential under more favorable growing conditions, providing a 3.4% average yield advantage over grower-selected checks in over 7,000 comparisons.*

“The 2011 on-farm results showed that growers saw a performance advantage with Optimum AQUAmax hybrids,” says Schussler.

Further study of Optimum AQUAmax hybrids shows the following advantages among these products compared to susceptible checks, demonstrating why they can yield better in drought conditions:

  • Optimum AQUAmax hybrids show a clear advantage when drought stress occurs at flowering.
  • The hybrids maintain a higher rate of photosynthesis during drought stress. This consistency can contribute to more consistent yields under stress.
  • Optimum AQUAmax products exhibit traits which lead to reduced seasonal water use.

“There are many mechanisms that contribute to improved drought tolerance, and we’re confident we’re incorporating a broad base of native traits to deliver yield stability to our customers,” says Schussler. “As we further understand what improves drought tolerance, Pioneer corn breeders can develop even better corn hybrids for growers."

“Our differentiated approach focuses on total product performance - enhancing yield performance during water deficits, agronomic stability under optimal water conditions, and the on-farm know-how to help manage water with the right product on the right acre,” says Monica Patterson, marketing manager for Optimum AQUAmax hybrids.

Optimum AQUAmax hybrids are developed through Pioneer’s proprietary Accelerated Yield Technology (AYT™) system. This suite of tools, including molecular breeding techniques, allows research to rapidly scan and identify genes responsible for increasing yields and other beneficial traits. The AYT system allows Pioneer to bring products with key native genes to market faster. In 2011, the Pioneer research network included eight managed stress testing locations across the U.S. and Chile and over 8,000 on-farm comparisons, product advancement tests and research trials.

“Drought is a complex issue and can affect crops differently depending on the geography and stress factors of each environment,” says Schussler. “There is no single gene or ‘silver bullet' solution for the drought complex. Managing crops in drought-stressed environments is critically important to achieving performance results, and Pioneer continues to partner with growers to offer the best management suggestions to help maximize profit while minimizing risk.”

Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, is the world’s leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics, providing high-quality seeds to farmers in more than 90 countries. Pioneer provides agronomic support and services to help increase farmer productivity and profitability and strives to develop sustainable agricultural systems for people everywhere. Science with Service Delivering Success™.

DuPont (NYSE: DD) has been bringing world-class science and engineering to the global marketplace in the form of innovative products, materials, and services since 1802. The company believes that by collaborating with customers, governments, NGOs, and thought leaders, we can help find solutions to such global challenges as providing enough healthy food for people everywhere, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, and protecting life and the environment. For additional information about DuPont and its commitment to inclusive innovation, please visit www.dupont.com.

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Contact:    Jerry Harrington
800-247-6803, ext. 56908

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* In 2011, the initial commercial class of Optimum® AQUAmax™ hybrids was grown in on-farm comparisons across the US against commercially available competitor hybrids selected by the grower in 680 water-limited environments with a win ratio of 64%; and 7,258 comparisons under more favorable growing conditions with a win ratio of 67%. Water limited environments are those in which the water supply/demand ratio during flowering or grain fill was less than 0.66 on a 0-1 scale (1=adequate moisture as determined by Pioneer) using Pioneer’s proprietary EnClass® system and in which the average yield of the commercially available hybrids was less than 150 bu/acre. Moisture levels were measured at the nearest weather station. More favorable growing conditions are locations where yield levels were at or above 180 bu/acre on average, regardless of moisture levels. Product performance in water-limited environments is variable and depends on many factors such as the severity and timing of moisture deficiency, heat stress, soil type, management practices and environmental stress as well as disease and pest pressures. All hybrids may exhibit reduced yield under water and heat stress. Individual results may vary.