University of Minnesota Data Shows Hybrid Selection Key To Yields

University of Minnesota Data Shows Hybrid Selection Key To Yields

University of Minnesota studies show the corn hybrids you choose to plant are the number on factor in determining yield.

University studies show hybrid selection is the No. 1 factor in determining yield. Four years of yield data from the University of Minnesota illustrate the impact hybrid selection has on a corn grower's bottom line.

"We identified key agronomic practices that impact a grower's success including hybrid selection, crop rotation, tillage systems and relative maturities," says Jeff Coulter, University of Minnesota Extension agronomist. "Selecting proven, well adapted hybrids with high yield potential can make a large impact on overall performance."

CHOOSE CAREFULLY: Studies have looked at key agronomic practices that impact a grower's success, including hybrid selection, crop rotation, tillage systems and relative maturities. Selecting proven, adapted hybrids with high yield potential makes a large impact on overall performance.

According to the research, return to the grower was between 37% to 64% when comparing highest to lowest yielding hybrids. "No other decision can make that large of an impact," says Fritz Behr, vice president of research at Wyffels Hybrids.

Marc Loes, who farms in Dubuque County in northeast Iowa makes his hybrid decisions before the end of the year. "I have a few test plots where I can check out new hybrids, but I also review what has performed well on my fields in the past," he says.

Zero-in on corn selection, traits to consider as you decide which hybrids to plant

Behr suggests farmers review the following factors when selecting corn hybrids for next year:

* Your geography, number of growing degree days, soil type and drainage. Consider prevalent disease and insect problems you've had and the fertility levels of your fields.

* Local yield/performance data across multiple years and multiple sources including universities, grower associations, seed companies and on-farm strip trials. Get available data and information on products and new technology from a knowledgeable seed representative.

* Pay attention to harvestability and root lodging resistance, as well as stalk strength and greensnap resistance. Choose disease resistance that matches your past disease pressure.

* How does the hybrid react to drought stress? Also look at its test weight and dry down characteristics.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

Behr recommends planting a selection of hybrids with different maturities and genetics to help manage both the risk of summer heat stress with pollination timing and the workload at harvest. "Since we can't predict what kind of growing season we'll have, it's best to plant 25% early maturing hybrids, 50% mid-range and 25% late maturing hybrids," he says.

Planting a selection of hybrids with differing maturities and genetics helps manage risk

The second-ranked practice in the University of Minnesota trials, crop rotation, affected 4% to 19% of yield. Research generally demonstrates a yield improvement for corn following soybeans or alfalfa, however, some growers take advantage of the high yield potential that continuous corn can offer when prices are right.

Loes grows continuous corn and realizes the extra steps needed when selecting hybrids. "We're in a high rootworm pressure area so we need hybrids that can withstand insect stress," he says. "We plant traited seed with above- and belowground insect control. It's also important to have strong base genetics for corn-on-corn acres with good standability and stress tolerance."

The northeast Iowa farmer is moving to 100% refuge in bag, or RIB, hybrids for 2013. RIB products help save time at planting, ensure refuge compliance and most important for Loes, offer valuable trait technology for insect protection.

Management decisions that make a difference


% Yield Impact

Agronomic Factor*



Hybrid selection



Crop rotation vs. continuous corn



Tillage system for continuous corn



Uniform emergence vs. 1-leaf stage delay



Late- and mid-season hybrids vs. early hybrids

The next four factors had much less impact on performance:



Planting date



Population of 34,000 vs. 30,000 plants/acre



Within row plant spacing



Narrow or twin rows vs. 30-inch rows

*Two factors not mentioned are soil fertility and insect and disease management. Researchers considered these to be prerequisites for high yield corn. Source: University of Minnesota

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