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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Transgenic Hybrids More Prominent in Corn Performance Trials

December 10, 2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Transgenic corn hybrids are becoming more prominent in Ohio State University Corn Performance Trials.

Of the 237 entries evaluated in this year's trials, 84 percent carried transgenic traits. That's 25 percent more than what was evaluated in last year's trials.

Transgenics is the science of introducing a gene from one organism or plant into the genome of another organism or plant. In crop production, Bt corn to control European corn borer and rootworm, and Round-Up Ready corn and soybeans for enhanced weed control would be examples of transgenics.

Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist, said that the large number of transgenic hybrids evaluated in the trials indicate that most corn hybrids will contain one or more Bt and/or herbicide resistance traits in the future.

"Five years ago, less than 15 percent of the hybrids we evaluated in our performance trials were transgenic," said Thomison, who also holds an Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center appointment. Now it's more than one-third.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 40 percent of Ohio's 2007 corn crop consisted of biotech varieties, 15 percent more than last year. Of the various traited corn hybrid types -- insect resistant, herbicide resistant, and stacked genes -- farmers grew more stacked gene (multi-transgenic trait) hybrids, increasing their acreage by 15 percent over last year.

The trials, conducted by Ohio State University Extension, are designed to evaluate corn hybrids based on a variety of performance characteristics, such as yield potential, percent moisture, stalk lodging, emergence and test weights of the grain. The results help growers select hybrids that not only yield well, but can also withstand a variety of environmental factors and growing conditions.

In this year's trials, transgenic hybrids received high marks, especially in regards to high yields.

"Overall, triple-stacked hybrids generated the highest yields," said Thomison. "Eight of the top 10 yield hybrids are triple-stacked hybrids, one is a double-stack, and one contains a single trait."

However, stacked traits did not necessarily ensure the highest yields, said Thomison.

"Of the bottom 10 hybrids, nine are triple-stacked hybrids and one is a double stack," said Thomison. "This means that hybrids will perform differently, based on region, soils and environmental conditions, and growers should not rely solely on one hybrid characteristic or transgenic traits to make their product selection."

A detailed breakdown of hybrids evaluated in this year's trial, by characteristic and region, can be found by logging on to

The Ohio State University Soybean Performance Trials, which serve the same purpose as the corn performance trials, are also available.

Nearly 30 percent of the entries evaluated have the ideal Phytophthora-resistant package, and less than 15 percent show low levels of partial resistance, said Anne Dorrance, an OARDC plant pathologist.

"This is the highest proportion of entries in Ohio's performance trials with effective levels of partial resistance since 1997," said Dorrance, who also holds an OSU Extension appointment. "Partial resistance will provide protection in all fields, in that it is effective against all races. It works by reducing the amount of root tissue that Phytophthora sojae can infect and never causes the stem rot phase."

Results of the soybean performance trails can be found by logging on to

Candace Pollock
Peter Thomison