, Volume 191, Issue 2, pp 165–171 | Cite as

Challenges and opportunities for developing maize cultivars in the public sector



Maize (Zea mays L.) breeding programs integrating pre-breeding with cultivar development are needed. The objectives of the North Dakota corn breeding program are to adapt exotic and unique germplasm, maximize the genetic improvement of adapted germplasm, and develop unique short-season products for breeding and commercial use. This applied program has significant support from state maize grower organizations, farmers, food and fuel processors, and industry. As a result 25 inbred lines and 17 improved populations, carrying unique alleles not present in the B73 line and the Nested Association Mapping population (NAM) genomes, were released in the past 10 years and six hybrids were identified for commercial purposes. These included the first releases from our NDSU EarlyGEM program to increase the genetic diversity of U.S. northern hybrids and break environmental margins. These are not registered nationally due to exclusive agreements with industry. The strategic location of this research program allows the exploitation of challenging environmental conditions making evolution toward desirable goals faster, discarding unstable and weak maize varieties effectively. There are still several challenges to be addressed though. Retailer companies offer fewer products with more events making maize more vulnerable due to similar genetics. The confidential nature of the maize business limits breeding rights to develop better industry products, which currently reduces the breeding efficiency to identify the most outstanding hybrids for farmers across regions. Maize research, development, and production in marginal regions can be uniquely positioned to lead breeding research for climate changes and the development of the next generation of genetically broad-based elite products. Improvements in intellectual property and re-thinking of breeding rights access are encouraged.


Germplasm Inbred lines Intellectual property Maize Short-season Zea mays


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant SciencesNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA

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