Drought tolerant corn seed could boost crop yields by 50%

A first-generation, drought-tolerant corn seed that Monsanto recently helped develop could increase yield in Kansas up to 50 percent, according to a Kansas State University crop ecologist.

"This could be very significant," said Kraig Roozeboom, an assistant professor for crop production at K-State.

Use of the genetically modified seed will primarily target land that yields 130 bushels or less and is not irrigated, said Tom Ruff, director of yield and emerging technologies for St. Louis-based Monsanto.

Over the past 10 years, Kansas has averaged 130.6 bushels per acre, ranging from 115 to 150 bushels. Last year's crop yielded 134 bushels.

About 60 percent of the 3.63 million acres of corn harvested in Kansas last year was produced on non-irrigated land.

But Roozeboom said the drought-tolerant seed would also affect Kansas' irrigated land, because rainfall amounts vary so much.

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