Manage challenges in your fields through careful seed selection
When selecting seed, you’re inundated with choices. Strike a balance between strong genetics and effective traits in each of your field environments.
“Right now is a great time to go out and scout with your retailer or seed provider to talk strategies for next year,” says John Long, Mycogen commercial agronomist in southwest Iowa.
Because the entire season starts and ends with the seed, take time to make sure you make smart decisions. Seed genetics set the stage for yield potential and play a key role in germination, early seedling vigor and season-long health. Seed traits provide herbicide tolerance and protection from insects that can steal bushels. Constantly evaluate your fields and determine what seed genetic and trait packages will provide the most return on your farm.
Genetics determine yield potential before the seed hits the soil. As the cornerstone of good crop development, make sure the genetics you select have strong agronomics and disease resistance.
Good seed selection is critical to your season-long success. Choose the right genetics and traits to fit your field and reap more bushels at harvest.
“Just like all people are different so are plant genetics,” says Mike Vande Logt, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Winfield, who has more than 25 years of experience in the seed industry. Just like you wouldn’t ask a football player to do a rocket scientist’s job, you need to correctly place seed genetics to get the job done right in each of your fields, he says.
Knowing the disease pressures, soil types and yield potential for every field helps narrow down your choices. In addition, be sure to ask your seed supplier a few basic questions to maximize placement:
- Ask for plot results spanning a variety of soil types and conditions.
- Find out the planting population in which the hybrid or variety performs best.
- Learn the products’ fertilizer needs throughout the season.
- Determine if the hybrid or variety you’re considering is one that needs extra scouting and management or if it’s an adaptable, workhorse product.
“Prior to considering herbicide or other traits, you want to have seed genetics matched to your area,” says John Kultgen, DuPont Pioneer field agronomist in northern Illinois.
After narrowing down your genetic needs, consider what trait packages will best match your fields. With numerous trait stacks to choose from, you don’t want to pay for traits you don’t need, but you don’t want to leave your crop vulnerable to pests either.
When it comes to selecting herbicide traits, weigh your options and any weed resistance issues in your fields.
“Identify weed populations through scouting,” Kultgen says. “Know what species they are, if they’re normal annual weeds or if they’re tough to control or possibly resistant. This is your starting point, see if you have an issue and make plans.”
If you recognize some of the weeds in your field have resistance, select traits that allow you to spray effective herbicides to avoid yield loss.
Weeds aren’t the only pests that plague fields. Insects can devastate crops if left unchecked. Watch for increasing pressure from corn rootworm, European corn borer, black cutworm and fall armyworm, to name a few.
If you’re in an area with less below-ground pest pressure, for example, you can probably ditch Bt traits that protect from corn rootworm. If they’re not an issue, you might not need the additional traits and can save considerable dollars. Similarly, if you have minimal pest pressure in general or plan to regularly scout to spray insecticide, you might be able to ditch Bt insect traits altogether.
“You have to know where your fields are at,” Vande Logt says. While selecting seed for next year be sure to use your field knowledge and prioritize what genetic and trait features matter most to maximize yield potential.