Corn breeding is a time honored profession started by farmers desiring to improve the seeds they planted by selecting the ears of corn that contained the seeds that they wanted each fall to plant the next spring. This has evolved into a very sophisticated system over the past 100 years by utilizing people who only breed corn and then by companies who specialize in new corn hybrid development. New technologies and methodologies of corn breeding have developed simultaneously with the specialization of corn breeding. Corn breeding has also transferred from being mostly driven by universities and Land Grant colleges to the private sector. We have seen unprecedented sustained gains in yield through these changes in the corn industry.
All of these methods and products are designed with the long term in mind. It is a continual process of product improvement by adding new genes in each development cycle. It requires patience and dedication to do this type of work. We learn something new everyday by being out in the field listening to and watching what the crop is telling and showing us. The key is cycle time. How fast can we cycle into the next generation of improved materials to take advantage of what we have learned and then put that into the farmer’s hands? The farmer can then move these advances to the consumer’s hands. We have corn development nurseries and trials growing somewhere 365 days a year.