Selecting the right hybrids for your farm is still one of the most important decisions you will make for your operations. All of the other inputs that you can control such as fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides or fungicides are not as important as selecting the right hybrid genetics for your operations.
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So how do you go about deciding which corn hybrids to plant for 2016? Keep the following points in mind while making your selections:
• Choose hybrids on a field by field basis. Seek the help of your seeds rep for allocating hybrids to each field based on soil types.
• Full season hybrids for your area generally have the highest yield potential because they can fully utilize the growing season. Consider using at least three hybrids of different maturities. My recommendation is that you should plant 70% of your corn acres with the full season hybrids for your area, 20% with medium maturity and 10% with early maturity hybrids.
• Do you have a dryer or do you need to field-dry and take the grain to the market? If you don't have a dryer, you want to make sure that you can plant early and grow earlier maturity hybrids for your area.
• Plant hybrid pairs that differ in pollen-shed days by two to three days to extend the pollination period. Our Crop Watch 2015 grower for this year has been successfully using this system to help in spreading the pollination period. He typically plants 12 rows of two comparable but slightly different maturity hybrids in his 24-row planter.
• Do you intend to use foliar fungicides? Judging from this year's diseases, that's a mute question. Ask your seedsman about the resistance of the hybrids to the fungal leaf diseases like northern corn leaf blight, gray leaf spot or other pathogens prevalent in your area. Fungicides are not effective on bacterial diseases like Goss' wilt. Be aware new diseases like the Tar Spot disease (fungus) reported recently in Indiana.
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• Are you going to use hybrids resistant to certain herbicides or insects? Bells and whistles can be expensive so buy only the seed with the traits needed in your area.
• Base genetics of the hybrid is the most important part of the hybrid. First select the type of hybrid that does well on your farm, then ask your seed rep for traits that you need in that type of base genetics.
• Are you going to use hybrids resistant to certain herbicides or insects? Buy only the seed with the traits you need.
Process for hybrid selection is not easy but is needed and your seeds rep should be very helpful. Contact him or her because the best hybrids are going fast! Let's hope for a great 2016 growing season!
Nanda is a consultant for Seed Consultants, Inc. He writes from Indianapolis.