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Method and Apparatus for Analyzing Stalk Strength

OTT case 19-005 | Patent Pending

The problem of stalk lodging (i.e. plants breaking in wind and rainstorms) results in substantial agricultural losses each year. Losses are particularly relevant in corn where it is estimated we lose at least 5 percent of the annual harvest due to lodging. This equates to approximately $380 billion in lost grain each year in the United States.

To improve stalk strength and lodging resistance, plant breeders need to be able to measure how strong each experimental variety of corn is. If plant breeders could non-destructively quantify how strong stalks are each year then they could more effectively breed for varieties with increased lodging resistance. The invention is a minimally invasive puncture test that is used to calculate the diameter and rind thickness of plant stems. The measured diameter and rind thickness are then used to calculate the section modulus of stems, which previous research has shown accounts for 81 percent of the variability in corn stalk strength. Both hand-held and automated devices are being developed.