What is in this article?:
- Bt corn is really a form of crop insurance that comes in the seed bag. The presence of one or more Bt genes in a corn hybrid will not increase yield potential.
- Bt genes in a corn hybrid will not increase yield potential. Instead, the gene(s) prevent yield losses from certain insects.
- There are different kinds of Bt corn, depending on which Bt genes have been inserted. Some Bt genes protect against stalk borers and others help prevent leaf and ear damage from various caterpillars, including corn earworm and fall armyworm. Still other genes protect the roots from Western corn rootworm.
Estimated economic return
Does it pay to plant Bt corn hybrids in north Alabama? Estimated economic return, above the cost of the technology, at a standard planting date ranged from $12 to $84 per acre for Genuity VT Triple Pro and $6 to $8 per acre for Herculex I. For the late planting date, estimated economic return, above the cost of the technology, ranged from $24 to $72 for Genuity VT Triple Pro and $16 to $27 for Herculex I.
The “economic return” does not include other costs of production. For example, even though the Bt technology would have apparently paid for itself at Crossville, the best yielding hybrid averaged only 19 bushels per acre, which would not have been profitable when other production costs are factored in.
Late-planted corn in the irrigated test at Belle Mina yielded much better but still may not have been profitable, depending on production costs (average yields 147 to 170 bushels per acre, depending upon the hybrid).
The Auburn researchers recommend that growers always pick hybrids with good a good agronomic fit for individual farms, and make sure the hybrid has good disease resistance.
“Always consider the yield potential of the hybrid family involved, and make sure the hybrid is adapted for planting in the Southeast. Then think about what other value-added traits are available, such as herbicide resistance or Bt corn technology.”
Results from the 2010 yield trials showed that Genuity VT Triple Pro and Herculex I would have paid off in north Alabama, where there was considerable Southwestern corn borer pressure in addition to caterpillar damage in the ears.