The corn plant has a biological potential of 500 bushels per acre, yet the industry talks futuristically about producing 300 bushels commercially when the average U.S. corn yield is 150 per acre.

Those are interesting numbers to banter around in the coffee shop and in the turn row. However, those statistics take on increasingly more significance as world leaders and agriculturists ponder a hungry world of 7 billion people today that is expected to grow 30 percent or 2 billion people by 2050.

“Already 14 percent of the world’s population is undernourished with billions more people to feed in the not so distant future,” says Tom Prata, seed technology specialist with Wilbur-Ellis (WEC) in Modesto, Calif.

Prata is heading up a team that is taking a practical look at what can be done economically to reduce the stresses that are holding back crop yields so the world can be fed in the future.

It is a three-year joint effort called Project Symphony supported by Wilbur-Ellis and BASF at a farm in El Nido, Calif., where a grower’s traditional efforts are being economically evaluated against intense crop management to see if at least some of that corn yield potential can be released.

American farmers have done an incredible job of increasing yields, says Prata, pointing out that If producers used crop production practices from 1931 to produce an amount of corn equivalent to the 2008 crop, it would require 490 million acres. Farmers used a little more than 87 million acres to produce the 2008 corn crop.

“However, we obviously need to do much more since the world's farmland is in limited supply to feed those 9 billion people in just 37 years,” says Prata.

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The intense management part of the side-by-side field comparisons will focus on grower cultural practices, seed treatment, precision planting and plant densities, professional products, genetics and hybrid selection, traits and fertility.

“This project is a real world look at the conversations we have today on tailgates with growers when we talk about ‘What if we,’” said Prata.

Progress in those areas will be detailed Aug. 20 at a field day at Double Diamond Dairy in El Nido from 10 a.m. until noon. The farm is located at 782 West Washington Road, El Nido.

The program will feature six presentation stations:

·Station 1: Why Project Symphony. What do we hope to learn--Tom Prata, WECO

·Station 2: A grower’s perspective --Bob Munger, manager, Double Diamond

·Station 3: VERIS Mapping, benefits--Perry Bruce, AMSR.

·Station 4: AgVerdict Software--Kristen Anderson, WECO.

·Station 5: Fungicides and Plant Health--Dawn Brunmeier, BASF.

·Station 6: Value Added Nutrition--Matt Quist, WECO.

For additional information about the field day and project, contact Prata at (559)304-1353 or

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