Pollen Drift Demonstration

Tom Olsen, farm management field specialist

Situation

Corn producers are seeking ways to add value to their crop. Premiums are available for raising specific types of corn. Included would be certified organic or guaranteed non-GMO. Also various identity preserved contracts are available. Each market requires varying purity warrantees with penalties or rejection for non-compliance.

Response

A demonstration project was designed by Tom Olsen, Farm Management Specialist, for the ISU Allee Farm to demonstrate corn pollen drift. The primary objective was to visually assess the potential risks involved when raising and marketing corn with specific genetic traits. Particularly organic and non-GMO corn producers need to think about financial risk in the face of physical reality, when their market requires zero-tolerance for the presence of unwanted genetic traits. Purple popcorn was planted through the middle of a yellow corn field with various separation distances cut out of the field. The cross-pollination was evidenced by purple kernels in the yellow ears.

Impact

A field day was held in the fall at the Allee Farm with 50 in attendance. Print, radio, and TV interviews were given. An Iowa State University video was prepared and released for a regional farm report. Articles were noted in local, state, and regional farm publications. The results from this 15-acre plot were compelling enough, that grid-samples were taken of the entire field to compare cross-contamination percentages, distances, with the gathered weather information. A report is pending. The pollen drift project was presented at a regional organic conference and several other venues.

Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu