Carefully Choose Corn Hybrids for Your Farm

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Growers should weigh their corn yield goals against hybrid characteristics such as drought, disease and insect tolerance. Seeking advice, reviewing trial data, and planting multiple varieties are additional ways to leverage corn hybrids for high yields.

The corn hybrids you choose to plant rank as one of the most important upfront input investments you’ll make all season. Keep in mind that corn hybrids also offer the most potential to deliver high yields and profits, even during stressful environmental conditions.

With the multitude of corn hybrids available today, growers need to look at features offered by each seed package. Study the hybrid’s attributes for natural tolerance to diseases and nematodes, and consider hybrids with biotech traits such as insect tolerance and herbicide tolerance to control tough-to-manage and resistant weeds.

Do your homework before deciding which corn hybrids will best fit your individual approach to a new growing season.

Greg Luce, University of Missouri grain crops specialist and research director for Missouri Soybeans, advises: “Although corn hybrid selection can be a challenging decision for farmers each year, it’s helpful to think about some basics. Among the basic decision factors are field placement, soil types, hybrid research trials, traits and corn seed treatments. Farmers then can trust their knowledge about which hybrids will work best for their farming operation.”

Luce indicates that to maintain a robust weed program, herbicide traits are usually a high consideration after yield, but risk also plays a part in hybrid selection.

“In some cases, farmers may want to weigh high corn yield goals against other hybrid characteristics, such as drought, disease and insect tolerance. It’s important to manage your corn crop based upon field history and the risk factors involved.”  

Even though modern corn hybrids possess much resilience, you don’t want to skimp on the basics when choosing your corn hybrids. Luce and other agronomy experts suggest you consider a checklist when making decisions about selecting corn hybrids:

  • Seek advice – Talk to your neighbors, seed company representatives and ag retailers. Tailor your hybrid choices to individual fields.
  • Trial data – Look for hybrid trial and performance data over multiple years. Universities, seed companies and retailers conduct yearly trials of hybrids that are standard choices as well as new ones entering the marketplace.
  • Plant multiple hybrids – Plant more than one corn hybrid each growing season. Weather conditions, soil types, disease and insect pests can affect the performance of a specific hybrid. Planting multiple hybrids spreads out your risk from unpredictable weather and crop pests. It also provides the opportunity for you to learn which corn hybrids work best for individual fields.
  • Seed genetics – Select corn genetics carefully. Plant newer hybrids plus your tried-and-true hybrids. Look at the seed traits that are part of the crop system package you purchase. Select corn hybrids with various biotech traits including insect and herbicide tolerances to control the most tough-to-manage issues such as resistant weeds. But also look at hybrids that have been selectively bred for desirable traits such as greater tolerance to diseases or drought conditions. Decide which ones best fit your circumstances. Planting diverse genetics and a range of maturities are sound management practices that will help spread risk and enhance your chances for achieving optimum yields.
  • Resistance management – Choose hybrids according to field needs with traits that are tolerant to foliar leaf diseases, herbicides, and insect pests to enhance a diversified management plan, manage risk and maximize return on investment. Use the latest in best management practices for herbicide, fungicide and insecticides to prevent resistance.
  • Seed treatments – Protect your seed investment with seed treatments to help provide below- and above-ground protection against diseases, insects and nematodes, which enhances stand establishment and seedling growth, laying the foundation for maximum yield potential.  Inform your seed dealer about the diseases, insects and nematodes you want to tackle in your field and inquire if you are choosing a hybrid with the best seed treatment for your problem pests.
  • Maturity ratings – Closely examine the maturity ratings of corn hybrids. Think about your projected planting dates and which corn seed choices will fit. Another consideration is that selecting different maturity ratings can help you spread out harvesting time.
  • Fertility – Consider applying a portion of your nitrogen later in the growing season. Modern hybrids possess the ability to endure mid-season weather stress and continue nitrogen uptake after silking.
  • Planting Rate – Many studies have proven that today’s hybrids can sustain well-developed ears at higher densities, meaning that in order to capitalize on genetic improvement for higher grain yield, modern hybrids need higher densities than older hybrids. This has been a long-term trend. Population of corn needs to be adjusted for the growing environment and the specific genetics.
  • Stalk strength – Research the stalk strength of a corn hybrid to help protect against tough weather conditions, prevent lodging, facilitates ease of harvest and, ultimately, enhances crop yield.

Learn more about the solutions Bayer offers growers, including the LibertyLink® system to maximize yields with high-performing genetics and better weed control, and its portfolio of seed treatment products. Poncho®/VOTiVO®, an excellent seed treatment to help fight against important early-season corn pests, offers dual protection (systemic insecticidal and unique bacterial strain), resulting in healthier plant establishment and a more uniform crop, positively impacting yields.

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