Boosting the solar power of corn

By Dave Nanda, Seed Consultants, Inc.

These days we hear a lot about reducing the use of fossil fuels and producing more clean energy by solar panels or wind machines. However, I don’t know of a better system than the corn plant that not only captures sunlight efficiently and simultaneously reduces carbon dioxide and gives us oxygen so we can breathe. A very small percentage of the solar energy is captured by the plants; most of it is either wasted on the ground or is reflected back. So what can we do to make a more efficient use of this free energy?

Our corn breeders have been collecting germplasm from all over the world and developing superior hybrids for a long time. We have designed hybrids with upright leaves, which can capture more sunlight and also allow the lower leaves to receive and trap greater amounts of light. These hybrids may also be planted at higher populations. The present day hybrids have better stalks and root strength, which can tolerate higher populations in narrower rows as well as heat and drought stress. We have released the new Optimum AQUAmax hybrids this year which have been selected to tolerate heat and stress and produce stable and consistent yields. Make sure to observe these in the plots near you during summer meetings.

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