Bayer rolls out short corn variety tolerant of weather extremes

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FILE PHOTO: Prince Edward Island potato field

By Karl Plume

– Global farm chemicals and seeds maker Bayer will launch a corn variety in the United States next year that it says will better tolerate heavy winds associated with climate change, estimating future sales in North America as high as 1 billion euros.

The corn, which grows one-third shorter than current varieties, will be planted by 150 U.S. farmers in a commercial trial in 2023, then released to the broader market the following year, the company said at a media presentation on Thursday.

Short-stature corn is the latest crop variety bred to withstand increasingly volatile weather associated with climate change, joining a growing list that includes drought and heat tolerant corn and soybeans.

Bayer said initial plantings of its short corn will be from traditionally bred seeds. Biotech traits and gene edited varieties will be rolled out in 2027 or later in North America and other geographies including Latin America, Asia and possibly Europe, with global sales expected to peak in the 2030s.

“We see a fit of short-stature corn across every corn acre around the globe,” said Bob Reiter, head of research and development for Bayer’s crop science division.

Bayer says the crop will also be easier to farm because the shorter plants will allow for simpler mid-season applications of fertilizer, pesticides and other farm chemicals. The shorter plants will also make the crop more resilient in windy conditions such as the derecho that leveled millions of corn acres in Iowa in 2020.

(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; editing by David Evans)