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Syngenta Agrisure Artesian Corn is Drought-Resistant

     A Syngenta employee hand pollinates female plants to
     ensure complete fertilization.
     Photos: Courtesy Syngenta

For a farmer, water is king. But rainfall is fickle and even irrigation systems can falter.

That’s why scientists and technicians at Syngenta, a Swiss-based agricultural-technology company with seed operations on Kauai and in Kunia, have developed a new variety of drought-resistant corn. They call Agrisure Artesian the industry’s first “water-optimized” corn technology.

In an era of climate change that threatens more droughts, this could be an important crop for a hungry world.

     This Syngenta parent-seed field on Kauai has been
     detasseled. Female plants with tassles removed will
     be cross pollinated to produce hybrid corn with
     drought resistance and other desirable traits.

First Steps:

Though the company also produces genetically modified products, this variety was developed with traditional breeding techniques such as cross-fertilization or hybridization. Researchers isolated particular genes in corn that support resistance to drought.

Tests:

Those drought-resistant genes were introduced into high-yield corn varieties at Syngenta’s labs in North Carolina. Then, the first generation of seeds hit “first earth” on Kauai, where a cycle of growing, testing, rejecting and retesting began under a variety of conditions, from arid to full irrigation.

     A corn ear shows immature kernels developing
     about 12 days after pollination. However,
     Syngenta says there is no corn earworm
     damage to the ear thanks to its enhancement
     of some of the plant’s traits.

Yields:

Syngenta believes this new variety of corn will provide at least 15 percent greater yields under water stress than its traditional cousins. Phillipson says Artesian can be successful in often-arid areas of the United States as well as in many developing countries that grow corn on marginal land.

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