Next year's growing conditions are the ultimate wildcard. Forecasters have suggested the dry trend may continue through winter and into summer. A crystal ball would make it easy to select the correct seed according to growing degree days, wind, disease, rainfall -- in the absence of a crystal ball, experts suggest to plan for as much variability as possible. Hybrids that perform consistently across multiple locations will have the best chance, come-what-may.
The University of Minnesota Extension service offers the following considerations when making your seed selections for the coming season --
"Considerations for grain hybrid selection:
- Hybrid selection begins with maturity. Early Growing Degree Day (GDD) accumulation, combined with an early planting season overall, caused corn to mature early in 2012. In planning for next year, identify an acceptable maturity range based on the number GDDs required for a hybrid to reach physiological maturity (black layer).
- Detailed information about the number of GDDs available for corn production for multiple locations along with information on the relationship between GDDs and corn relative maturity (RM) is available at: http://z.umn.edu/ak0
- Plant multiple hybrids of varying maturity to spread risk, and widen the harvest interval.
There is more variability in yield among hybrids within a given RM rating than there is between maturity groups. Detailed information on corn grain yields and harvest moisture for various RMs across Minnesota is available at: http://z.umn.edu/ak1
- Hybrids should also be selected according to agronomic traits such as standability, disease tolerance, emergence, and the need for transgenic resistance to insects and herbicides within a given production system."
You can view UM Extension's 2012 Corn Grain Hybrid Trial Results at z.umn.edu/corn2012. Do your homework on this. The winter season is an excellent time to familiarize yourself with the wide variety of hybrids available to the modern grower. Maximize your 2013-14 yield. Keep an eye on the weather forecasts, update your knowledge of available hybrids and position yourself to do well even if the drought continues into next summer.
Photo credit: James Jordan / Foter / CC BY-ND