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Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster, Activity 2: Improved corn genetics for the Canadian corn industry

Principal Investigator

Lana Reid

Research Institution

Ottawa Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

External Funding Partners

This project is part of the $10.3 million Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster funded by the Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance (CFCRA) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) through the Industry-Led Research and Development Stream of the Growing Forward 2 AgriInnovation Program. Grain Farmers of Ontario is a founding member of the CFCRA.

Project Start

April 2013

Project End

March 2018


  • Develop corn inbreds with early maturity through enhanced selection procedures.
  • Develop corn inbreds with improved disease resistance to Gibberella ear rot (Fusarium graminearum) and emerging diseases.
  • Develop corn inbreds with rapid kernel drydown.
  • Develop corn for new markets and with improved agronomic traits, such as early season cold tolerance.


  • The expansion of corn acreage by the release of new genetics and technology for growing corn in early maturity regions of less than 2800 crop heat units (CHU).
  • The improvement of corn yields and grain quality by reducing the incidence and severity of the major diseases, especially those contaminating the grain with mycotoxins.
  • The reduction of grain drying costs.
  • The opportunity of new markets for corn in the industrial sector.

Scientific Summary

Production of corn in heat-limited environments of less than 2800 CHU is rapidly expanding as demand for grain corn increases and as corn is used increasingly for industrial and food purposes. Despite this, some producers can still find it difficult to make a substantial profit, especially in the early maturity zones, due to the lack of suitable early hybrids with acceptable early season cold tolerance and the need to artificially dry the grain after harvest often at considerable expense. In addition in all corn regions, there has been a significant increase in the severity and incidence of leaf diseases and Gibberella ear rot, caused by Fusarium graminearum is still a significant threat to the value chain due to associated mycotoxins. Although yields have increased in many regions, these yield boosts did so during a time when energy inputs were relatively inexpensive, which is something which is rapidly changing as costs continue to increase.

This project is predominantly a long term breeding project with the goal of providing new elite inbred lines of corn. These inbreds will be used by the corn seed industry to produce new commercial hybrids or as a source of new genetics in their own breeding program. These inbreds will also be used by public and private researchers to further research discoveries in corn breeding, disease resistance and production. The project also develops new technologies, such as techniques for evaluation disease resistance and the discovery of molecular markers, which will be released to the corn industry for adoption. Emphasis is placed on developing inbreds and technologies for early maturity, cold tolerance, rapid kernel drydown, resistance to leaf, stalk and ear diseases, and development of new types of corn such as sugarcorn for biofuel and industrial uses.

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