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Corn Traits and Technologies

Maximize Your Crop Potential with the Right Technology

Pioneer provides industry-leading trait options to keep your crop healthy and improve your profitability. From drought tolerance to above- and below-ground insect protection to herbicide tolerance, our technology options help your crop achieve its full potential.

Industry-Leading Trait Technology

Our technology options combined with elite Pioneer genetics are locally tested and proven to perform. Select the package you need to protect your crop against yield-robbing insects, unfavorable conditions or both.

Qrome® Products

New, triple stack of defensive traits plus dual modes of action for above- and below-ground pests.

Optimum® AcreMax® Family

Single-bag refuge solutions for above-ground insect protection, below-ground protection, or both.

Optimum® AQUAmax® Products

Developed to get more out of every drop of water and yield, rain or shine.

Defend Against Yield-Robbing Insects

Above- and below-ground insects can reduce crop health and rob bushels from your bins. The right insect protection helps maximize your crop performance.

Defend Against Yield-Robbing Insects

Optimum ® Intrasect ® hybrids are locally developed to perform in a wide range of environments and combine two proven and trusted traits (HX1, YGCB) to give your crop dual-mode above-ground insect protection. These hybrids provide another choice to maximize yield and preserve valuable Bt technology, with either a structured 5 percent refuge in the Corn Belt or 20 percent refuge required in EPA-designated cotton counties.

Optimum ® Leptra ® Hybrids

Optimum ® Leptra ® hybrids have a powerful pyramid of traits with three modes of action to provide superior control of above-ground pests, including corn borer, corn earworm and fall armywormon on your acres. The pyramid of traits in Optimum Leptra (AVBL, HX1, YGCB) deliver cleaner ears with less kernel damage through reduced ear feeding by these harmful pests. Optimum Leptra requires a structured refuge of 5 percent in the Corn Belt and 20 percent in EPA-designated cotton counties.

Herculex ® Insect Protection

Herculex ® insect protection offers leading protection against corn insects for maximum yield potential. Herculex I provides the same consistent control of above-ground insects for areas with minimal rootworm pressure. Herculex RW offers a high level of protection against northern, western and Mexican corn rootworm to safeguard the entire root system. Herculex XTRA is the stack of Herculex I and Herculex RW, and gives you season-long control for a broad spectrum of above- and below-ground insects. Advanced corn trait technology, such as the Optimum ® AcreMax ® family is built on the Herculex traits.

Glass Gem Corn: Poster Child For The Return To Heirloom Seeds

Brittle corn stalks border a backyard garden in Flagstaff, Ariz., on a windswept mesa surrounded by ponderosa pine trees. They look dried-up and ordinary, but the garden’s owner, Carol Fritzinger, says opening up the husks to see what’s inside is like Christmas morning.

“Oooh, this one’s a pink and purple variety,” she says, laughing as she peels back a husk to show a translucent, rainbow-colored corn cob inside. “You just never know!”

Goats and Soda

In Guatemala, A Bad Year For Corn — And For U.S. Aid

“Glass Gem” is like no other corn in the world. It’s a throwback to ancient varieties and bred specifically for its beauty. A photo of one stunning rainbow-colored corn cob went viral in 2012. Since then, it’s inspired thousands of people to get involved with seed saving.

“I want everyone to grow it,” Fritzinger says, showing off a cob patterned with red-and-white swirls like peppermint candy. “So I give as much seed away as people will take.”

“Glass Gem” has its own Facebook page with more than 19,000 followers, but its journey from an Oklahoma cornfield to Internet fame started with a man named Carl Barnes. Barnes wanted to explore his Cherokee roots, so he began collecting and planting ancient varieties of corn. A mix of Cherokee, Osage, and Pawnee varieties produced two tiny, multicolored cobs, which he showcased at a native plant gathering. The colors enthralled a grower named Greg Schoen.

Barnes didn’t have much of the unusual corn, but he gave a handful of kernels to Schoen. That was in the spring of 1995, around the time the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed. Schoen, living in Oklahoma at the time, was carrying the kernels around in his pocket when the news of the bombing reached him. He pulled them out and looked at them.

“It was like I got this strong impression,” he remembers, “a voice was saying: this seed is going to change things.”

Glass Gem’s translucent, rainbow-colored kernels made it an Internet sensation. Melissa Sevigny/KNAU hide caption

Glass Gem’s translucent, rainbow-colored kernels made it an Internet sensation.

Schoen moved to New Mexico a few years later, planted the corn, and crossed it with Pueblo popcorn. Ears appeared with not only brilliant colors but a shiny, glasslike hue. Schoen felt it was more than a pretty plant. It was a piece of the past that had nearly been lost. He says corn is woven with human culture, but diverse traits bred by generations of farmers began to vanish when agriculture became big business. For Schoen, saving that heritage wasn’t just about genetic variety: “it also has cultural memory, and that’s a powerful force.”

Schoen gave away seeds to anyone who wanted them, including Belle Starr and Bill McDorman, a couple who had just started a seed saving school in, of all places, Cornville, Arizona. Starr and McDorman didn’t know what to expect from their first crop of corn. But they took a group of students out to the garden to shuck off the husks at harvest time.

The colorful cobs that emerged were “beyond belief,” McDorman says. Starr adds, “People were crying in our class, they were literally crying, it was so beautiful.”

The Salt

From Farm To Distillery, Heirloom Corn Varieties Are Sweet Treasures

A year later, McDorman and Starr took over directorship of the nonprofit Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson. They put a photo of the multicolored corn on the Website with Greg Schoen’s original caption: “Glass Gem.” Thousands of orders for seeds poured in. Other seed-saving groups took up the challenge of increasing the small stock of Glass Gem. So many people tried to order it from a company called Seeds Trust, their Website crashed.

“One ear of corn is that famous picture of Glass Gem,” McDorman says. “One little ear that’s now changing the world. and has, in the end, been called the poster child for the whole return to heirloom seeds.”

Starr and McDorman are now the directors of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, a group that saves seeds by giving them away through a network of “seed stewards.” Its mission is to protect locally adapted seeds that produce hardier, tastier — and prettier — crops, part of a larger vision for a more sustainable food system. “When you start saving seeds from something you’ve grown,” McDorman says, “and then plant it again, you’re rejoining a ritual — a 10,000-year-old ritual — that created all the foods we eat out of wild plants.” For him, the story of Glass Gem corn isn’t just about food or beauty. It’s about protecting stories and a sense of place.