Corn growers have more seed choices than ever before, and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is helping them keep up with their options.
The NCGA’s Know Before You Grow database is an important resource tool with more than 4,000 biotech corn hybrids in its database. Each listing includes the regulatory status of the hybrid — whether it is approved for export to Japan and/or the European Union.
“Growers have to become more aware of whether their corn needs to be channeled,” said Martin Barbre, chairman of NCGA’s Biotechnology Working Group. “We’re getting new (biotech) traits every year. We have to be very careful how we let that grain get into export markets.”
NCGA began the Know Before You Grow program in 2001. At that time, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 26 percent of corn was grown from biotech seeds. By 2005, when biotech seed first accounted for more than 50 percent of all corn production, the number of seed varieties in the database had increased to more than 2,000.
Today, with more than 60 percent of all corn acres planted in biotech seeds, 4,200 varieties from 77 seed companies are listed in the database.
“It’s harder to keep (the approval status of biotech hybrids) straight,” said Barbre. “That’s why it’s important to have one site where you can look at all the different hybrids you may possibly plant.”
The easy-to-use Know Before You Grow database allows corn growers to search for hybrids by seed company name, hybrid number or characteristic.
Each hybrid listed includes the status of regulatory approval in Japan and Europe. Growers can use that information when choosing what seed to plant, or before marketing their crop.
Barbre credits cooperation between NCGA and seed companies for Know Before You Grow’s continuous updates and improvement. “We’ve done an aggressive effort of getting (lists) from every company,” he commented.
To access information in the Know Before You Grow database go to the Web site www.ncga.com  and click on resources at the top of the page.