Partner Profile: Corn Growers Association of North Carolina
Among the earliest supporters of the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative (N.C. PSI) is the Corn Growers Association of North Carolina. The 4,000-member organization led and funded by corn growers began in 1977 and promotes the corn industry through education, marketing and research. Collaborating with other commodity and farm organizations, it educates its members and the public about critical issues facing agriculture, encourages dissemination of successful management practices and facilitates training in new technologies in agriculture. The association funds research to resolve challenges North Carolina corn growers face, among them crops that are resilient to severe weather conditions.
“This is the first year in several that the crop hasn’t come out of the field at a break-neck pace due to an impending tropical event,” says Rhonda Garrison, executive director of the association. “The weather is less predictable with each passing year, and, though we can’t do anything about the weather, we are constantly working on varieties and hybrids that will perform well in less than ideal weather conditions.”
That effort to produce hearty varieties and hybrids is one main reason the Corn Growers Association supports the research and Extension of N.C. PSI. Corn is one of the top commodities grown in North Carolina with just under 1 million acres planted each year. NC State researchers and extension have a long history of working with the crop to improve its resiliency to pests and disease, develop new varietals and understand how DNA replication in plants leads to certain traits. Improvements to the crop are tested and shared throughout the state with corn producers and farmers, making a direct impact on the industry.
“The Corn Growers Association knew immediately that N.C. PSI had a vision that would be great for the university, the state and the world,” says Wade Byrd, former two-term president of Corn Growers Association of North Carolina. “We knew we wanted to be involved and that it has enormous potential to help corn growers in North Carolina.”
Byrd particularly was excited about the opportunities N.C. PSI provides facilitating collaborations between agrobusiness, researchers and technology companies. “With the university being located so close to the Research Triangle and the global partnership potential with the Plant Sciences Initiative, the research that may come out of this is unlimited,” says Byrd. “It blows my mind to think about what we can do down the road.”
The association works nationally with the National Corn Growers Association and internationally with the U.S. Grains Council to improve corn and to promote the use of corn and improve corn products. Issues like price, demand and yield are local and national challenges that the association hopes new research will help inform.
“I see untold potential for this partnership,” says Byrd. “We are so proud to be a part of it.”
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Senior Director of Development, Plant Sciences Initiative