NECC29: Northeastern Corn Improvement Conference

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Inactive/Terminating

NECC29: Northeastern Corn Improvement Conference

Duration: 10/01/2013 to 09/30/2018

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

The Northeastern Corn Improvement Conference (NECIC) facilitates information
sharing and research collaboration on what is arguably the most important
agricultural crop in the northeastern U.S. Stakeholders in the region include dairy
and livestock producers (the largest agricultural enterprise in several major states
and a growing business given milk demand from the booming Greek yogurt
industry), corn grain producers who have increased their acreage for both traditional
grain markets and ethanol production facilities, and a rapidly growing group of
organic grain and dairy producers. All of these groups need regionally-appropriate
germplasm and variety testing, pest management information that is tailored for the
wetter conditions experienced during crop maturation in the northeastern US and
eastern Canada, results from agronomic research to help them keep abreast of the
latest technological developments and production issues, and the knowledge that the realities of corn producers in the region are apparent to and serve to guide the efforts of cutting-edge researchers.

NECIC has met annually since 1945, with the sole exception of 1950 when
researchers were regrouping in the wake of World War II. Group interaction is
focused primarily on this event, held in February of each year and hosted by one of
the participants. The annual meeting provides a crucial forum for networking
among all the key players in corn production in the northeastern US and eastern
Canada. Meeting participants include public sector corn researchers from the State
Agricultural Experiment Stations and federal research programs in the northeastern
U.S., and from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in eastern Canada, together with
private sector scientists who have an interest in corn improvement in these regions.
Plant breeders and geneticists constitute the majority of the group, but it also
includes agronomists, plant pathologists, seed scientists, crop physiologists,
entomologists, and others with an interest in corn improvement. About 40 to 50
scientists attend each meeting.

Active participation of the private sector is a unique aspect of NECIC. Public and
private sector scientists have alternately served as chair of the organization, ensuring
that the program is relevant to both and serving to strengthen the ties between state
and industry scientists. Private sector scientists from the group have strongly
encouraged support of public sector corn improvement research at the state and
federal levels through letters and lobbying efforts. Such support would be much
less likely without the types of public-private sector connections facilitated by

Annual NECIC meetings have provided a forum for sharing and discussing research
results related to corn improvement and for consideration of policy issues affecting
corn research in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada. Scientific papers
presented by participants allow all to keep abreast of others' research topics and
results. State and industry reports provide information on emerging trends in corn
production and the seed industry, and on corn improvement concerns in the region.
Through this shared awareness and interest, collaborative research has been
pursued when appropriate as illustrated by the following examples:

- The resurgence in the importance of northern leaf blight and the earlier
emergence and northward migration of gray leaf spot as a serious corn pathogen in
the eastern U.S. have both prompted collaborative efforts among corn breeders in
this group to screen germplasm for resistance. Pathologists have collectively
assessed recent recommendations for preventative fungicide sprays on corn.

- Evaluation of corn germplasm for resistance to multiple diseases of importance in
the northeast, being conducted by Agriculture Canada's corn breeder in
Ottawa, has included germplasm from Cornell University's breeding program.

- Graduate students have done portions of their research at other institutions (e.g.,
field evaluations, specialized laboratory research) and have had access to others'
genetic materials.

- Breeders in the group exchange germplasm and participate in joint testing efforts.

- Agronomists from NECIC institutions collaborated with private industry to evaluate
the performance and feed quality characteristics of corn hybrids with stacked
genetically engineered traits.


  1. Hold an annual meeting where northeast corn breeders, geneticists, pathologists, physiologists, entomologists, and agronomists from the public and private sector can exchange their current research results.
  2. Monitor and share information about the spread of pests specific to the northeastern US and eastern Canada and conduct coordinated research on their management.
    (a) Northern leaf blight resurgence and management options.
    (b) Roundup resistant weed management.
    (c) Data-driven information regarding use of corn foliar fungicides as plant health enhancers when diseases are not present.
    (d) Refuge management practices in light of Bt-resistant corn rootworm emergence.
  3. Conduct multi-state research and share information about corn management.
    (a) Impact of genetically engineered hybrid adoption on corn production in the region.
    (b) Fertility management in the nutrient sensitive Chesapeake Bay drainage area.
    (c) Seed sources and management for an expanding organic production sector.
    (d) Stay abreast of the changing corn demand and supply situation as it is affected by changes in policy and economics of ethanol production.
  4. Exchange corn germplasm among breeders in the region for evaluation and breeding purposes.
  5. Provide graduate students with research and professional development opportunities.
  6. Continue to increase the already-robust public and private sector participation in NECIC.

Procedures and Activities

A two-day annual meeting is held (generally in mid-February) at a location determined by the incoming Chair of the group. This meeting includes research presentations by regular members and graduate students, often offering them one of the first opportunities to make an oral presentation in front of their scientific peers. Reports about corn production are given by the respective state and provincial members during the business meeting. All presentations and reports are assembled into an annual proceedings volume that is distributed electronically and filed in hard copy at Cornell University's Mann Library.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • Exchange of ideas and information/data among the region's corn workers.
  • The region's corn workers keep abreast of emerging production issues regionally, nationally, and internationally.
  • Exchange of germplasm to contribute to regional breeding efforts.
  • Region-specific research results that provide corn growers with guidance on crop and pest management.
  • Professional development of graduate students.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

All scientific presentations and reports from both public and private sector participants are summarized in an annual proceedings volume that is made available to participants and other interested parties.


The NECIC has two officers, Chair and Secretary/Chair-elect. At each annual conference, the Chair convenes a business meeting. The Chair's primary responsibilities are to organize the annual conference and business meeting and coordinate publication of the proceedings. The Secretary takes the minutes and handles any routine correspondence. At the end of the meeting, the Secretary assumes the position of Chair and a new Secretary/Chair-elect is elected for the following year. Both public and private sector participants will be encouraged to serve in these capacities, in order to continue the strong tradition of involvement from both of these groups. Administrative guidance is provided by an assigned Administrative Advisor and a NIFA Representative.

Literature Cited


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

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