Marcelo Carena, NDSU Department of Plant Sciences

This proposal addressed the need for genetic diversity and quality of North Dakota hybrids. Consequently, the NDSU corn-breeding program identified low cost high quality hybrids with reduced risk to farmers.
A new northern U.S. gene pool was created and knowledge was generated to colleagues, students, and stakeholders. The program developed 21 new corn products in 2016-2017 and Plant Variety Protection Disclosure Forms were completed.

Advanced Corn Technologies (USA) has signed two commercialization agreements with the NDSU Research Foundation to increase, produce, and process NDSU hybrid seed available to ND farmers. One of these products is a female inbred line demonstrated to produce more hybrid seed than any female inbred available in the market. This will translate to a lower final cost of seed to farmers under low commodity prices. Other program accomplishments include:
• Plant and Food Research (New Zealand) identified five NDSU hybrids with commercial potential for the dairy industry.
• CanaMaize (Canada) requested the commercialization of genetically broad based NDSU populations for marketing low cost alternative short-season corn populations and their hybrids saving time and cost of seed production.
• Two NDSU corn products were used for humanitarian purposes in NE Asia.
• Companies and institutes requested over 60 NDSU corn inbred and population agreements in 2016. Corn royalty fees were used to supplement research-related salaries and travel.
• Hi-Fidelity Genetics signed a consulting agreement to identify commercial products.
The NDSU corn-breeding program validated a non-destructive high throughput phenotyping invention for identifying drought tolerant hybrids, produced 11 peer-review publications, developed four new male and female inbred line releases, and created 17 new germplasms.

Hybrids, including the new lines, out-yielded commercial hybrids in marginal environments across years. Hybrid yield gains due to NDSU breeding and genetics were worth over $20 an acre.
A unique breakthrough happened this season: the program adapted 100% tropical corn to North Dakota for the first time. To continue success, it is imperative to be able to harvest later in the season. This provides new genetically diverse elite products that carry drought tolerance, fast dry down, disease resistance, and low nitrogen input needs, reducing farmer costs for fertilizing, drying, and irrigation. Screening under controlled winter nursery conditions and utilizing NDSU corn breeding inventions for high throughput phenotyping for fast dry down, cold and drought tolerance was essential for the development of these products.

Dollars were used in a cost-efficient way taking maximum advantage of cooperation. We have worked extensively with stakeholders and led a large network of public and private cooperators to avoid spending federal and state funds in costly academic labs. The program was exposed to Monsanto and Benson Hill Biosystems technologies when invited to visit their technology centers and conferences to share ideas on quantitative genetics, genome editing, bioinformatics, analytics, and microbiome initiatives.

The information gathered was presented on-site to producers and peers through field days, scientific publications, press releases, plenary lectures, and websites. Information can be accessed on the NDSU Plant Sciences and Research Foundation websites and in the monthly Plant Sciences Department newsletter.