Considerations for buying corn seed in 2019

Nathan Drewitz, University of Minnesota Extension

Hybrid selection is one of the most important agronomic decisions for corn production

Hybrid selection is one of the most important agronomic decisions for corn production. As results from yield trials continue to roll in, certain considerations should be used when selecting the proper hybrid for specific fields.

Starting with hybrid performance, those hybrids that perform consistently well over multiple locations and years in a region are preferred. Because we can’t control next year’s weather patterns choosing hybrids that have shown the ability to handle the weather patterns within this region may help reduce management risks. New corn hybrids should be tried on limited acreage to see how they perform, and as more information on these hybrids becomes available, they can begin to play an increased roll in your fields. Information for performance should come from multiple sources that include universities, grower associations, seed companies, and on-farm strip trials. Replicated plots that provide calculations of Least Significant Difference (LSD) usually offer more confidence that you will see similar results with that hybrid. Hybrids that are near the top in several single strip field trials may also offer some confidence. The University of Minnesota and Minnesota Corn Growers Association both have information available online.

Identify an acceptable maturity range based on growing degree days (GDDs) required for a hybrid to reach maturity. Selected hybrids should reach maturity at least 10 days before the first average freeze to allow for grain dry-down and to provide a buffer in a cool year or if planting is delayed. Keep in mind that full-season corn hybrids do not consistently out-yield mid-season hybrids here in the Upper Midwest. There is more grain yield variability among hybrids in a relative maturity group then between maturity groups. Information on GDDs needed for corn production in various regions at different planting dates can be found at the UMN Extension website under “Selecting corn hybrids for grain production” or by calling the county office. It is recommended to plant multiple hybrids within the maturity range of your region. This will help widen the harvest and pollination time frames, and reduce the risk that the entire corn crop will experience hot and dry conditions during pollination.

Select corn hybrids according to agronomic traits including suitability for the crop rotation, emergence, root strength, standability and tolerance to diseases, drought, insect pests, and herbicides. By using field histories, prioritizing and selecting the proper agronomic traits for a specific field will be easier. For those without field histories, be cautious on what genetic traits you choose and which ones you leave out. While it may save money to go without specific traits such as the Bt traits, without proper knowledge on the field in question it may cost more down the line. As always, learn and follow the best management practices to reduce the risk for insect, weed and disease problems. Another possible way to save money is to take advantage of prepay discounts that usually occur this time of season. While I know it may be difficult to find and get credit, this is an opportunity for all to save money.

Most of the above information is from Extension Corn Agronomist Jeff Coulter and is found at the UMN Extension website. For more information go to the Corn Production page of the UMN Extension website or call the County Extension office in Foley 320-968-5077.

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