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      Corn hybrids grow near Amarillo despite drought

      "Most of the stuff withered and nearly died", said Texas AgriLife Research Senior Research Engineer, Thomas Marek.

      That's something that could be said about most of the crops in the Texas Panhandle this year and growing crops using less water is something we may have to get used to.

      "Projections are showing that we're going to have to do more with less going forward. We need some that has high heat tolerance and also drought tolerance", added Marek.

      So for the past few years, that's what Texas AgriLife Research has been working on -- engineering corn seeds that will grow in specific environmental conditions. For us, that means "drought tolerant".

      This year, AgriLife tested a group of these germplasms, or hybrids, in the North Plains Research Field near Etter and got some "green" results.

      "We had some new germplasm lines that we tested in with the commercial varieties this year and while those were severely stressed and nearly dead and you had some of this experiemental stuff that didn't even know it was dry. Really green, leaves weren't wilted", said Marek.

      These hybrids will be sold to commercial producers, not farmers. Then those producers will add them to their own trait-specific varieties before they're sold.

      Once farmers purchase and plant those varieties from the producers, they'll be able to irrigate less and still get a bigger yield.

      "They should be able to increase some of their net profit while conserving our areas depleting natural resource which is the Ogallala Aquifer", continued Marek.

      A resource we all know needs protecting.