Seed corn companies offer a number of different traits in their corn hybrids. The traits include: glyphosate tolerance (Roundup Ready), glufosinate tolerance (LibertyLink), resistance to corn borer, and resistance to corn rootworm. More traits are in development such as drought tolerance, nitrogen use efficiency, other herbicides and new insect protection, these and more will be offered in the near future. Seed companies initially offered one trait, then progressed to offering two or three traits in the same hybrid. Refuge plantings were required for the insect traits. The industry is rapidly moving towards SmartStax which has more than three traits and may have more than one mode of action. They have also moved to Refuge in a Bag (RIB) which eliminates the need for a separate refuge but only offers less than 20% refuge. The traits currently available on the market fall into two categories: herbicide tolerance or resistance to pests. With each added trait there is an added cost as the seed companies attempt to recover the cost of research and development and make a profit. There are many choices and many different field situations. It can be difficult for a farmer to decide which hybrid and trait to choose and to evaluate if the extra cost was good insurance, by covering its cost in extra yield or provided some other benefit. This project aimed to evaluate a corn hybrid and the same hybrid with one or more traits for yield, economic return and other agronomic characteristics.

Read the entire report here: Evaluating the Economic Benefits of Corn Hybrid Traits