• Condensed by Lynda Kiernan-Stone

USDA Funds Unique Organic Corn Breeding Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded a grant of $2 million to the University of Illinois (U of I) to fund a research program for breeding organic corn.

Historically, farmers have not had a wide range of choices when it comes to organic corn varieties, however some of the top genetic lines have been developed at the U of I. Two distinct traits that this program will focus on achieving are nutrient efficiency and nitrogen efficiency.

This program is unique in that it involves players from along the value chain - including farmers who will conduct on-farm trials and test maize germplasm, and consumers who will provide feedback on the quality of the organic corn and the food products made from them such as corn bread and tortilla chips. This integration of the entire supply chain into one project will give researchers a better view of how to develop cultivars that meet market demands.

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