According to university field trials, hybrid selection is the number one factor in determining yield. Four years of yield data from the University of Minnesota illustrate the impact hybrid selection has on a corn grower's bottom line.
"We identified key agronomic practices that impact a grower's success including hybrid selection, crop rotation, tillage systems and relative maturities," says Jeff Coulter, University of Minnesota extension agronomist. "Selecting proven, well adapted hybrids with high yield potential can make a large impact on overall performance."
According to the research, return to the grower was between 37% to 64% when comparing highest to lowest yielding hybrids. "No other decision can make that large of an impact," says Fritz Behr, vice president of research at Wyffels Hybrids.
Bill Jay, who farms just west of Champaign, typically makes his hybrid decisions shortly after harvest. He plants corn from several different companies, bases a lot of his decisions on what has worked well in the past on his ground and focuses on base genetics.
"We have corn rootworm pressure in this area, so I plant some traited seed with above- and below-ground insect control, but I mostly concentrate on good base genetics," Jay notes. "That means a lot more to us than what's stacked on to it."
Behr suggests reviewing the following factors when selecting corn hybrids for next year:
•Your geography, number of growing degree days, soil type and drainage
•Prevalent disease and insect problems
•Local yield / performance data across multiple years and multiple sources including universities, grower associations, seed companies and on-farm strip trials
•Available data, products and new technology from a knowledgeable seed representative
•Harvestability and root lodging resistance
•Stalk strength and greensnap resistance
•Disease resistance that matches your past disease pressure
•Reaction to drought stress