Balancing risks and rewards when evaluating seed options is more important than ever in times of economic uncertainty and lower commodity prices. Maximizing profitability requires choosing a corn hybrid with traits and disease tolerance packages that match the needs of your field history and environmental conditions.
“Choosing the right seed upfront can save money throughout the growing season and lead to better value and return on investment,” says John Long, Mycogen Seeds commercial agronomist.
Because seed purchases are among a grower’s top investments, Long recommends keeping management zones, disease tolerance and trait packages top of mind when selecting corn hybrids.Selecting the right hybrid upfront can save money throughout the growing season.
Evaluate management zones
Growers can optimize their seed investments by evaluating management zones in each field and strategically building a planting plan for each zone. Long says growers should split management zones into two or three categories to maximize their seed investments and increase overall efficiency.
In top-producing acres — or “A” zones — growers should invest in strong genetics and higher plant populations. For the lower-producing areas in a field — “B” and “C” zones — growers may not want to push populations as high.
Consider hybrid disease tolerance
Genetics are important to overall plant health. When it comes to disease tolerance, growers have a number of hybrid options with strong genetic tolerance to diseases such as northern corn leaf blight (NCLB), gray leaf spot (GLS) and Goss’s wilt.
“For growers who encounter these and other diseases, genetics is the best way to mitigate negative impacts and yield loss,” Long says.
For instance, Goss’s wilt is a yield-robbing disease with no in-season rescue option. NCLB and GLS require in-season fungicide applications, adding cost, time and machinery wear throughout the growing season.
“When it comes to seed purchases, now is not the time to try unproven products,” says Justin Rumple, a fifth-generation Iowa farmer. “We find picking products that not only consistently perform but also offer high disease tolerance, like Mycogen brand hybrids, give us the best chance for high yield and profit.”
Don’t rule out traits
“Growers should think of traits like they do vaccines against human diseases. If the vaccine works, you’ll never notice. But if you don’t have that protection and become ill, it’s apparent,” Long explains.
Growing conditions vary from year to year. In years of additional crop stress, crop damage from insects is more evident than years with optimum growing conditions. Long says trait technologies protect the crop’s yield potential. In most seasons, the value of traits outweighs the risks of reduced yield or crop loss.
“Planting unknown genetics or skimping on traits or disease tolerances create inconsistent results. That’s bad for the bottom line,” Rumple says.
Among potential challenges growers face if they choose seed without protective traits are stand reductions caused by black cutworm and late-season corn earworm feeding, reducing grain quality and kernel numbers, and increasing the potential for mycotoxins.
Rumple is convinced his prescriptive selection of corn hybrids improves his potential for higher yield and improved profitability. “We know if we put the right seed in the right field, it’s going to perform. We look at past hybrid numbers, field performance, and work to pair up the right hybrid with our fields. We know it is smarter to make that investment upfront,” he says.
Visit Mycogen.com to learn more.
®Trademark of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow
©2016 Dow AgroSciences LLC