Congratulations to Dr. Osler Ortez for recently receiving not one but two 2023 Outstanding Paper Awards for his work on abnormal corn ear development. This is quite an achievement, considering the large pool of research that can be considered for these awards both domestically and internationally.
The papers reviewed abnormal corn ear development and, in Dr. Ortez’s own words, “summarized already reported abnormalities, documented widespread abnormalities from 2016 in Nebraska and the region, and described the current understanding of the potential cause(s) and timing(s) of development. An overriding finding is that abnormal ears (of most kinds) negatively affect corn’s yields”.
Check out the papers:
- The American Society of Agronomy Outstanding Paper Award for “Abnormal Ear Development in Corn: A Review”
- Journal Outstanding Paper Award - Crop, Forage & Turfgrass Management (Crop Management Section) for “Conditions Potentially Affecting Corn Ear Formation, Yield, and Abnormal Ears: A Review”
Both papers were first published in 2022 and received these awards in 2023. We are grateful to have Dr. Ortez in our department and that he took the time to shed some further insight into his research...
Could you tell us a bit about your first two years as a faculty member?
The first two years have been very dynamic and rewarding. I have actively participated in programs across Ohio and the US, including multidisciplinary research and extension projects. I was able to onboard several new lab members representing six countries, including the US. Several new projects have come to life, some nearly completed. In 2023, I taught my first course and am getting ready for the second one. I have had the chance to interact and serve in various roles in HCS, CFAES, and professional societies.
What’s your labs overall research focus?
My appointment is 50% extension, 30% research, and 20% teaching. My program is primarily focused on applied research and extension efforts in corn but also on emerging crops. Our corn projects include hybrid selection, seeding rates, cover crops, inputs management, and planting dates. Battle for the Belt is a flagship project that involves its sibling crop (soybeans) in the latter bracket. On the emerging crop side, we have been researching sunflowers as a potential agronomic option in Ohio and developing collaborations with the Program of Excellence in Natural Rubber Alternatives (PENRA).
WHAT INITIALLY SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN REVIEWING ABNORMAL CORN EARS?
In recent years, widespread abnormal ears have affected farmer corn fields, reducing productivity and posing questions about the causes. The topic was at the core of my PhD program, and we worked on it for about four years. The results of these efforts are coming to fruition now.
Working on these papers helped fill a need to generate knowledge on abnormal ear development in corn. Although the task was not easy, it has been rewarding. These two review papers were the first steps for what started a series of other projects and publications on the topic. The implications of this work are relevant to the US Corn Belt and beyond. We are currently working on pushing a few more outcomes.
WHAT WAS THE MOST SURPRISING THING YOU LEARNED WHILE WRITING THESE 2 PAPERS?
The peer-reviewed literature regarding this topic was very limited, which made things harder on our end. It has been a known topic for at least 100 years, yet research on it has been minimal.
WHAT WERE YOUR FEELINGS ON RECEIVING BOTH AWARDS?
It took me by surprise. I received one notification, and I got the second one a few days later! These papers had a non-traditional outline and provided insight into an issue with minimal peer-reviewed literature yet spoke about it for almost a century, likely making them more impactful and relevant to the community.
COULD YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT HOW YOU MET/ARE INVOLVED WITH YOUR CO-AUTHORS?
Most of the co-authors were part of the project. Additionally, we needed expertise in corn production for these review papers. In the early stages of the project, I reached out to corn specialists in other parts of the Corn Belt, including USDA Scientists and colleagues at Purdue and here at Ohio State University. That structured a strong team with the needed familiarity and expertise on the topic.
I get abnormal ear questions every year - it is still an important phenomenon affecting corn production here in Ohio and elsewhere. Abnormal ears tend to occur sporadically, and sometimes, they can become a significant concern when this happens. More research outcomes are forthcoming, further building baseline knowledge to better prepare for future concerns.
You can learn more about Dr. Osler Ortez plus his research, extension, and teaching, by visiting his faculty page.