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Avoid planting same genetics twice

Seed genetics and commercial hybrid seed changes hands on many levels within the seed industry. How a company decides on which genetics to plant, how to produce it and how to market it depends partly upon the size of the company.

With all three activities and facets of the hybrid corn seed industry at play, you probably have one simple question. Is it possible that several companies might sell the same genetics? The answer is “yes.”

Key Points

The same genetics may come in different-colored bags.

Identify the true source of the genetics you’re planting.

Drop the bottom third of hybrids from your test plot lineup each year.

Smaller companies typically use foundation generic suppliers as their sources. Each company is free to pick hybrids that perform best in its area. That’s the niche that many smaller companies try to fill. They claim they can sell the best hybrids adapted to that specific area.

However, cream usually rises to the top. Many companies end up using the same pedigrees under different brands. That pedigree may do very well in a variety of locations.

Meanwhile, the multinational companies, which have acquired many seed companies during the past few years, may sell the same or similar genetics under different brands.

What should you do?

How do you know you’re not buying the same hybrids from three different brands? What can you do to make sure you’re not putting all your eggs in the same genetic basket? Buying from different companies may not solve your problem.

One option is to buy seed from several different companies representing different gene pools. These include BASF, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta. Include hybrids from various sources in your own test plots every year and accumulate data. Remember not to make these difficult decisions based on just seeing how good a hybrid performed somewhere else.

This isn’t to imply that you shouldn’t work with smaller or medium-sized companies. Just ask questions about where the base genetics for a hybrid comes from. While you won’t likely learn all their secrets, most seedsmen will make sure you spread your genetic risk.

It’s OK to try a few bags of a hot new hybrid. But it’s totally different to sign up your whole farm to a supposedly hot new hybrid or trait, especially if you don’t have your own test and know what it can do on your farm.

Good advice

Include hybrids from various sources in your own test plots every year. Accumulate data, even if it’s over a short time due to quick hybrid turnover. Plant hybrids that perform well on your soil.

Replace the bottom one-third of the hybrids in your plot with newer hybrids each year. Walk fields in the summer and identify key agronomic characteristics of each hybrid while growing. This will help make sure you’re not growing the same genetics, even with seed out of different bags.

Following such a plan helps develop a systematic approach to hybrid selection. You can avoid genetic duplication. This way you’ll be an innovative leader, not a cutting-edge bleeder!

Nanda is a crops consultant and director of genetics and technology at Seed Consultants Inc. Contact him at or call 317-910-9876.

This article published in the December, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.