Michael Fields Agricultural Institute logo
At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

Highlights of Our Work and Results

  • Some of our hybrid combinations yielded as well as commercial hybrid checks on many sites. However, increases in protein in grain were often associated with yield reductions.  Through our breeding we are making progress at combining both quality and yield.
  • Corn bred under organic conditions appears to compete better with weeds than conventional corn.
  • Initial findings with corn bred under organic or conventional conditions is that they may differ in their appearance when they are grown side-by-side under organic conditions.  Conventionally raised inbreds often look slightly chlorotic and compete poorly under organic conditions.  We call this the ‘culture shock’ syndrome.
  • Results in 2010 suggested that corn that has been selected under organic conditions appears to obtain more nitrogen than when conventionally bred corn is grown under organic conditions.  We are currently researching this surprising phenomenon.
  • Some of our corns have enhanced amounts of carotenoids.  These are antioxidant pigments that are essential for human health.
  • We have bred corn that has enhanced levels of protein and of the essential amino acids methionine, lysine, and tryptophan.
  • To facilitate our breeding we have worked out an easy infra red spectroscopic method for testing for essential amino acids (together with the Iowa State University Grain Testing Lab), a simple chemical test for carotenoids, and a simple taste test than enabled us to identify corn varieties that had the best taste.
  • We made some progress in breeding several varieties so that they will not accept pollination from transgenic corn.