Choosing Next Year's Crop
Ellen Phillips, Extension Educator-Crop Systems, 708-352-0109, firstname.lastname@example.org
Choosing the right hybrid or variety is one of the most important
steps in planning. The typical corn hybrid is only in the market about
three years, so evaluating new seed sources must be done every year. Choosing
the best genetics for your particular field conditions can add to your profit.
Yield is not the only factor to consider. Planting conditions,
seasonal weather, soil types, pests and other environmental conditions that can
all influence yield. It is important to compare yield information from
several locations. One should also consider maturity, lodging, stalk strength,
disease and insect resistance, etc. Continuous corn rotations, especially in
reduced tillage systems, are more likely to have a build up of disease organisms
and therefore are at a greater risk for diseases such as diplodia, gray leaf
spot, and stalk rots. Disease resistance built into the hybrid is
the easiest defense a farmer has in protecting yield.
Numerous sources of information exist for growers searching for the right
traits to maximize their profit. Company trials, university trials and on-farm
test strips offer insight into which hybrids can grow well across a many different
environmental factors and growing conditions. Performance trails typically
list crop performance characteristics, such as emergence, maturity dates, yield,
test weights, percent moisture and stalk lodging. Some also report
grain quality information for percent oil, starch and protein. Most performance
trials show the “least significant difference” (lsd) value to indicate
differences in that characteristic between hybrids or varieties. If the
difference between two hybrids is greater than the LSD value, then you can confidently
state that the two hybrids are different in that characteristic.
Look at the differences between the best and worst hybrids in a trial. Hybrids
vary a lot in their potential to adapt to stressful environmental conditions.
There may be large differences across a maturity zone depending on local conditions. Weather
significantly impacts pests and yields differently every year. When comparing
trials, find out the local growing conditions for that year. Most
importantly, use two- or three-year averages to make comparisons, since these
are more reliable.
Homegrown information can be equally valuable. You and your neighbors
experience in watching crops develop and using yield monitors to compare different
hybrids in your environment is can be an important source of information.
Put field days on your calendar. Observing individual characteristics
of a crop when it is growing is a great way to see differences. Contact your
local corn or soybean associations for field day information. Visit your
local University of Illinois research centers and ask to be on their mailing
lists for research updates and field day information.
Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center, near DeKalb, 815-824-2029,
Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center, near
Monmouth, 309-734-7459, email@example.com;
Copies of 2007 University of Illinois Corn, Soybean, and Forage Variety
Trials are available at local Extension offices. Current and historical
crop performance data from surrounding states are available at the following
University of Illinois
Corn, Soybean, Small Grains, Forage Performance Testing
Varietal Information Program for Soybeans
- includes insect and disease resistance data
Ohio State University
Iowa Sate University
University of Wisconsin