Editor's Notebook: A Good Way to Evaluate Hybrids

October 31, 2017 03:35 PM
Rhonda Brooks

A Good Way to Evaluate Hybrids

Nearly 30% of farmers make their corn hybrid purchase decisions for the following season in November, which is the No. 1 seed buying month, according to our annual Farm Journal Seed and Planting Survey (535 responses). You’ve told us the four most important factors for buying a seed brand are:

  • consistency of performance, 39%
  • yield, 31%
  • retailer relationship, 14%
  • price, 5%

Evaluating the consistency of performance in hybrids is a big deal. Doing that singular job well has the potential to bump your corn yields next year by 40 bu. to 50 bu. per acre without any increase to your input costs, says Mike Duffy, Iowa State University Extension economist.

So, what questions should you ask your seed rep? Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Extension corn specialist recommends starting with: “How can I identify consistent, strong-performing hybrids for my farm?”

The answer he says—even with the rapid pace at which hybrids enter and leave the marketplace today—is to look for trials that evaluate hybrids over multiple locations and to focus on consistency.

“Multiple testing locations in a single year represent possible weather patterns your farm may encounter in the future,” Nielsen writes in his Chat ’N Chew newsletter.

As you study plot results, hone in on hybrids that consistently yield 5% above the average trial yield. “If the average yield is 180 bu. per acre, look for hybrids yielding 189 bu. per acre or greater (180x1.05),” he writes.

“Another way to look for consistent performers is to identify hybrids that yield at least 90% of the maximum-yielding hybrid in a trial,” Nielsen advises. “If the highest yield in a trial is 225 bu. per acre, then look for hybrids that yield 203 bu. per acre or greater (225x0.90).”

Want more good insights on how to evaluate corn hybrids? Check out our 2017 Seed Guide, which you can find online at www.FarmJournal.com.

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