To test hybrid standability, DuPont Pioneer uses a wind machine that makes the Hollywood variety look like a desk fan.

The mobile wind machine – named Boreas after the Greek god of the north wind—produces winds above 100 mph. Moving through a research plot, Boreas generates winds to test experimental DuPont Pioneer corn hybrids. Five, 20-ton mobile wind machines mimic “the storm of the decade” to test hybrid standability and green snap. These are more common in moist years – even during dry seasons like 2012.

“You should have hybrids that stand up to all but the most extraordinary conditions,” saysAndy Baumgarten, DuPont Pioneer research scientist.

Pioneer estimates it’s possible up to 30% of North American corn acres can be impacted by root lodging, stalk lodging or brittlesnap in a given year. Root lodging occurs when wind exceeds the roots’ ability to support the plant, and the stalk leans or falls. Brittlesnap occurs when stalks break at an immature node pre-flowering. Stalk lodging is when stalks break below the ear due to violent winds. .

Since its 2009 introduction, Boreas has impacted hybrid development by allowing the company to remove hybrid lines susceptible to standability issue.