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Corn pollen drifts farther than thought

(Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Agriculture.com, 09/29/03: Results of an Iowa State University project examining the distance corn pollen travels to breed neighboring corn surprised researchers. Yellow corn planted near purple popcorn developed a large number of purple kernels, but purple kernels were found in neighboring corn as far as 1,600 feet away.

Researchers planted a strip of purple popcorn within a 15-acre field of standard yellow corn. Separation distances of 30 to 150 feet were cut out of the yellow corn to represent the range of buffer strips recommended by the industry. As expected, the yellow corn near the popcorn developed the largest number of purple kernels. However, researchers were surprised to find purple kernels developed in the entire test plot.

The popcorn pollen also infiltrated a nearby field of a standard yellow corn that was planted 19 days earlier. Purple kernels developed in that field every 100 feet up to 1,600 feet from the popcorn plants. Weather was monitored during pollination to investigate the relationship of pollen drift and prevailing winds.

The results of the research project will be on display at noon, October 3 at the Allee Farm, an Iowa State University (ISU) research and demonstration farm near Newell. The program includes a free lunch.

Agronomist Mark Westgate will discuss corn physiology with regard to pollination and unintended crossbreeding. Tom Olsen, ISU Extension farm business specialist, will explain the project's rationale and the economic considerations of drift and contamination. Lyle Rossiter, Allee Farm superintendent, will summarize current Allee Farm research and answer production questions.

For directions to the research farm visit: http://www.ag.iastate.edu/farms/allee.html

Source: http://www.agriculture.com/default.sph/AgNews.class?FNC=goDetail__ANewsindex_html___50672___1