DuPont says new corn seed yields better in droughts

KANSAS CITY Wed Jan 5, 2011 11:55am EST

KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - DuPont said on Wednesday it was launching a new corn seed that would yield better in "water-limited" environments, as growers around the world seek ways to maximize production during droughts.

DuPont, which owns Pioneer Hi-Bred, one of the world's largest agricultural seed companies, is introducing a limited quantity of the corn hybrids for planting this spring.

"Drought is a complex issue and can affect crops differently depending on the geography and stress factors of each environment," Pioneer President Paul Schickler said in a statement.

"There is no single gene or silver bullet solution for the drought complex," he said.

The initial class of the specialty corn seed will be marketed as "Optimum AQUAmax" and include five hybrid platforms. The new corn is not a transgenic, but future product offerings in this area may be, Pioneer officials said.

Pioneer is testing its drought work in locations around the United States and in Chile.

In 223 on-farm comparisons, product advancement tests and research trials in 2008-2010, AQUAmax hybrids showed a 5 percent average yield advantage over the leading commercial hybrids tested in water-limited environments concentrated in Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas and Texas and in controlled stress evaluations in California and Chile, DuPont officials said.

Many players, including leading biotech seed developer Monsanto Co, are working to develop crops with improved drought tolerance.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by Dale Hudson)