Harvest is underway! Long days and short nights in the combine, tractor and truck give farmers time to reflect. Key things to remember from 2016 are the wet spring, dry June, wet and late summer, and early fall. With commodity prices lower than past years farmers need to begin developing budgets for 2017.
Talk of inputs quickly turns to seed costs. Hybrid choice continues to be a complicated process for farmers. By now most farmers have attended fall field days looking at the new hybrids as well as the hybrids they planted this year. We know what the plot looked like, but how do your 2016 hybrid choices look from the combine cab?
Here are several factors to keep in mind when considering hybrid choices for 2017:
1) Cost. As I visit with farmers this fall, cost is the first topic of discussion. You need to consider seed cost but don’t let this be the only driving factor in seed corn selection. Often, companies offer early-order discounts for booking seed in the fall and paying for it around the first of the year. While this conversation is best conducted between you, your banker and seed supplier you need to consider performance of the hybrids you planted this year.
2) Disease tolerance is a key component to note when evaluating how a hybrid performed. Here in Southwest Iowa, gray leaf spot was an issue affecting some hybrids this year. In 2015 northern corn leaf blight was an issue. Ask yourself, how likely you are to apply a fungicide next season if commodity prices are low again? If you aren’t likely to apply foliar fungicide at tasseling, consider hybrid packages with above average disease ratings. Seed company agronomists are a good resource to ask how hybrids perform without using fungicide.
3) Insect package traits are common on most hybrids in Iowa. Consider your crop rotation and past history you’ve had with corn rootworm especially. Corn rootworm traits have been highly effective where insect resistance to the trait hasn’t been an issue. For producers who have experienced rootworm damage to corn roots, they know the decision they need to make. Several other options for rootworm control with soil-applied insecticides may be available for some producers.
5) Early season emergence of the corn hybrid. If you plant cover crops, specifically cereal rye, try to choose corn hybrids that are rated to do well in a corn-on-corn rotation to help early season corn growth. Early season vigor is an important trait when planting corn in less than optimum conditions. Having a nice, even emergence of corn helps to maximize its yield. How did your corn emerge this year? If from the combine cab this fall you observe erratic plant height and ear size, uneven emergence may be one of the causes.
6) Human error. Yes, I said human error. Did you make the most of your planting season and go a little early on some days or plant in less than optimum conditions? You need to understand how the day of planting can affect the day of harvest. I often see planter issues that occurred in spring from the combine cab in the fall. Ask yourself, is this a hybrid issue or a stress issue? The answer is critical to help you make the right hybrid decision for the coming year.
Look for Aaron’s second blog post tomorrow that will discuss the next five factors when considering hybrid choices for 2017.