Look at performance differences of hybrids
Evaluating yield data is important when deciding which corn hybrids to plant. Agronomists also say to plant a diverse set of hybrids. So beyond yield, what other factors should you evaluate to help ensure you get that genetic diversity?
Look for performance differences. These could point to diverse hybrids but also could directly affect yield. Four differences to consider are: maturity (a range will reduce impact of a single stress factor); moisture content (measure of maturity and affects drying costs); lodging tolerance (avoid susceptible ones); and disease tolerance (may not be able to compromise on).
Appearance differences may point to diverse genetics. Look at tassel size, shape and color; leaf orientation; silk color; pollen shed and silk interval; development rate; brace root color; plant and ear heights; and stay-green.
If high-yielding hybrids differ in one or more of the traits listed above, they may be good, diverse choices for your system. Don’t forget the same hybrid with a different suite of transgenic traits does not mean they are diverse hybrids. You may have different transgenic traits, but you will still have the same base genetics, same disease susceptibility and same maturity.
Obviously it takes time to select diverse hybrids. Seed companies can help, too. Read the seed tag; although the brand and number of a hybrid may change, legally the seed tag must show the variety name. In addition, seed companies are there to serve you. They will help ensure you maintain diverse hybrids in your cropping plan. Strive to select high-yielding diverse hybrids.
This article published in the December, 2011 edition of WALLACES FARMER.