Varieties and Planting Trials

Published Feb 6, 2001

What is the value of the Bt gene when it is used in the corn plant to resist corn borer? That is one of the questions in the minds of Dordt College Agricultural Stewardship Center staff who have conducted the same variety comparison for the last four years. This trial uses a standard hybrid, NK-4640, it’s Bt cousin NK-4640Bt, and a hybrid from Viking, a local seed company. Table 6 shows 2000 results of this trial, and Figure 5 illustrates yields and seed costs over four years.

All three hybrids were planted at the same population rate. For the past three years, the Viking hybrid has been the cheapest seed and has yielded most, averaging $28.48 per acre more profitable. But what about 1997, the last year that the state saw significant corn borer pressure? If you assume the Bt hybrid’s apparent yield advantage was real, it would have been $23.70 more profitable than the Viking number that year. So, how many years will be like 1997? If you knew that, you would know how much to pay for the Bt technology.