Maize Breeding

Pioneer founder Henry A. Wallace knew that a successful maize yield required more than planting straight rows. Wallace was the first to develop, produce and market hybrid seed maize. Since the company’s beginning in 1926, the focus was to bring better products to the market. Ever since, Pioneer has remained true to Wallace’s vision, increasing productivity and profitability for farmers around the world.

More than 4,000 researchers in 25 countries at more than 110 research locations develop and test 130,000 new experimental maize hybrids each year. Using the latest technological innovation, new high-performing products are being developed, rigourously tested and commercialised even faster.

Some of the advancements Pioneer’s breeders are making without using genetic modifications include:

Brown midrib (BMR) hybrids

Traditional BMR silage hybrids have been available in the USA for many years. While they have more digestible fibre these hybrids have been described as “your grandfather’s maize” because they have had significantly less genetic improvement for yield and agronomic performance than conventional maize hybrids.

Pioneer has taken the BMR gene and incorporated it in its elite germplasm using traditional breeding methods. Pioneer’s BMR hybrids combine the BMR fibre digestibility advantage with excellent yields, high starch content, strong drought tolerance and a robust disease and pest resistance package.

Nitrogen-use efficient hybrids

Hybrids with improved nitrogen use efficiency are being developed to produce more drymatter yield per unit of available nitrogen. Decreasing the amount of nitrogen needed per tonne of maize produced improves farmer profitability while reducing the environmental impact of nitrogen.

Optimum AQUAmax® hybrids

Optimum AQUAmax® hybrids provide top-end yield potential under optimal growing conditions and improve yield stability under drought stress. The Optimum AQUAmax maize silage hybrids available to New Zealand growers is P0791, P9911, P0725 and P9241. More exciting Optimum AQUAmax hybrids are currently being assessed in the New Zealand Research Programme.