LUBBOCK, Texas -- The Texas Agricultural Experiment Station at Lubbock (TAES) has received a $10,000 grant from the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 to evaluate drought tolerant corn varieties, determine which hybrids have the best potential for water conservation, and find the best crop rotation to maximize profit for High Plains producers.
"Corn is a key crop for the Texas Panhandle, but corn hybrids currently used by High Plains producers have high water demands," said A. Wayne Wyatt, High Plains Water District manager. "Corn hybrids that require less water from irrigation and/or precipitation need to be evaluated for potential use within the region," he said.
Under the project proposal, TAES researchers plan to grow drought tolerant corn hybrids under various irrigation methods/scheduling to determine the best way to water them using an amount of water comparable to that used during cotton production.
"Drip irrigation, furrow irrigation, and a LEPA center pivot sprinkler will be used at a 12-acre site on the Helms Farm near Halfway, Texas. Only drip and furrow irrigation will be evaluated this year since the LEPA system is not yet operational," said Wyatt.
Drip tape and irrigation controls have been donated and installed for use with this project. Additional funding has been provided by the Texas Corn Producers Board.
According to the researchers, the drip portion of the field will be irrigated at three-day intervals to provide 50 percent of the crop's potential evapotranspiration (PET) water losses, 75 percent of the PET, and 100 percent of the PET. Each furrow irrigation will apply 2.5 inches of water on a 10-day schedule. A weather station at Halfway will determine PET, and rain will be measured at the project site to assist researchers in making irrigation scheduling decisions.
"It is the Water District's hope that drought tolerant germplasm can be adapted for use on the Texas High Plains," said Wyatt. "Also, we hope this research determines the economic and agronomic feasibility of growing drought tolerant corn in the region."
A progress report on this water conservation research is expected to be submitted to the High Plains Water District Board of Directors early next year. Principal researchers for the project are Tom Archer, Wenwei Xu, Robert Lascano, Eduardo Segarra, and Jim Bordovsky, all of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station at Lubbock.
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