Scientists at Purdue University had been working on developing drought-resistant crops even before this summer’s lack of rain. Agronomy professor Mitch Tuinstra says there are other types of corn grown in places like Mexico, South Asia and Africa.
“There are different mechanisms that allow plants to grow where it‘s hot and dry,” Tuinstra says. “In some cases, they might have a larger and more expansive root system. They might have different types of leaf architectures that allow the corn plant to conserve moisture.”
Tuinstra says the challenge is finding out how to take the resourcefulness of the exotic crops and transmit it to the local crops. He says the types of corn crops grown in more tropical areas are often much taller than their Midwestern cousins.
Tuinstra says the two types of crops are cross-compatible, meaning the type of crops they‘re trying to create are not genetically-modified.