Share my Backstage Pass to the Future of Corn

Something went wrong. Please try again later...

Written by Mary Pat Sass, @marypat.sass

Photo - people working in cornfield
Photo - H. Sass

Harper’s first field tour was a success at the Pioneer Seed research field trials in Janesville, WI. We were able to pick the brains of experts at the facility and learn just how much goes into every bag of seed we purchase.

It takes 7-10 years for a corn hybrid to go through Pioneer's rigorous development process. Only .01% of all the hybrids that start the testing process actually make it through to a bag of seed we can purchase. With that timeline for development, corn breeders and agronomists have to anticipate what challenges we as farmers will encounter in the future so they can create new seed products to help fit our needs.

They start testing the product's DNA material to see if it’s got genetic markers that are worth field testing. About 10% of the hybrids end up being field-tested. At Pioneer’s research facility they can test 500 hybrids per acre. They analyze lots of different characteristics of each hybrid including vigor, stalk strength, root strength, disease resistance, height, etc.

Drones help with the hybrid analysis process at the research facility. They're able to take plant heights, stand counts, and more. Drones make it easier to analyze hybrids more often and more efficiently. They also take some of the human error out of the analysis process.

Hybrids that make it through that process are then tested in IMPACT trials for two years. These trials are replicated across a wide geography and that’s where they weed out the hybrids and choose the top 1/100th of a percent that make it into a bag of Pioneer seed.

We really enjoyed picking the brains of the plant breeder and agronomist at Janesville. It was really interesting to see the dwarf corn in the plot and the theory behind how it could help us as farmers in the future. It was apparent the amount of investment Pioneer puts into R&D efforts for creating new products. As farmers, we’re thankful for all the hard work these guys are doing behind the scenes.

Pioneer is sharing more about their R&D process and having bi-weekly trivia with prizes on the website linked below (and in my bio). They’re giving away 6 Pit Boss pellet grills! You don’t need to be a customer to win. Join us as we learn more about Pioneer’s Corn Revolution!

Take the Trivia Challenge

Mary Pat Sass is a corn and soybean farmer in Illinois and mother of two. Follow her on Instagram.

Share my Backstage Pass to Corn Breeding

From lab to field, Pioneer is delivering better corn hybrids faster than ever before. 

See how we do it