In my previous post, I discussed six key factors to keep in mind when considering hybrid choices for 2017, including: cost, disease tolerance, insect package traits, early emergence in corn, and human error. Now, I’d like to discuss hybrid selection from a standability, stalk quality, and grain dry-down aspect to round out the list.
7) Hybrid standability and stalk quality are other issues you need to address in the fall. I highly recommend farmers do a pinch test on cornstalks in all fields every year. This gives you a simple, quick diagnosis check on how a particular hybrid performs on your farm.
8) New hybrids are entering the market at a record pace, and we are often sold a different number hybrid than we currently planted. But, if it’s a hybrid from same family of hybrids, we now know how that family would perform under our management conditions.
9) Greensnap ratings of hybrids are another factor you need to understand. This issue is very difficult to discuss due to the fact that all hybrids, at some point in their life, are prone to greensnap given the wrong growing conditions. If your farm has a history of strong storms, then greensnap tolerance is more of a consideration for your farm.
10) Grain dry-down in the field is another topic of great debate among farmers. This is a management decision since all farms have a different grain handling system. For those farms with no or limited drying facilities grain dry-down in the field should be a point of discussion with seed suppliers. When considering dry-down traits in hybrids make sure you are looking at the hybrid’s ability to mature quickly and not simply plant earlier maturing hybrids. When planting earlier maturing hybrids, you may be giving up yield potential and risking a shorter pollination window, which early maturing hybrids exhibit.
11) The best trait to look for is yield. This is the largest piece of the puzzle relating to maximizing profit. I mention yield last because this is the most difficult trait to find when matching hybrids to fields and the management style of your farm. One tool I highly recommend is from the Iowa Crop Improvement Association (http://www.croptesting.iastate.edu/). This electronic database allows farmers to look at hybrids specific to their part of the state, and allows you to compare hybrids on yield as well as other traits.
I encourage all farmers to run mini-plots on their own farms to self-evaluate different hybrids and watch them during the growing season. While this does take time to set up this maybe the best paying few hours you do all season. I recommend a minimum of four-row plots. Experience is the best teacher, so see for yourself the potential a hybrid may have with your management. By doing this mini-plot program, you will feel more comfortable making that important hybrid selection.