Your corn-hybrid selection checklist
Here’s a checklist to follow when selecting corn hybrids this year:
¦ Choose hybrids that perform well over multiple locations in a region. Consistent performance over multiple locations with different soil and weather conditions is critical, because we cannot predict next year’s growing conditions. A hybrid that performs well over multiple growing conditions in one year has a high potential for performing well in the same region next year. Sources of information include universities, grower associations, seed companies and on-farm strip trials. Results from unbiased and replicated trials that include multiple entries from different companies are of particular importance.
¦ Identify an acceptable maturity range based on the number of growing degree days required for a hybrid to reach physiological maturity. Selected hybrids should reach maturity at least 10 days before the first average freeze to allow time for grain drydown, and to provide a buffer against a cool year or late planting. Selecting multiple hybrids of varying maturity will spread risk, and widen pollination and harvest intervals. Very full-season grain hybrids do not consistently outyield midseason grain. There is more variability in grain yield among hybrids within a given relative maturity rating than there is between maturity groups.
¦ Identify desired agronomic traits. These include emergence, root strength, disease tolerance, standability and the need for transgenic resistance to insects and herbicides. Standability is a key trait if higher seeding rates are used and late-season conditions are dry.
Some things to keep in mind when selecting silage hybrids include:
¦ Longer-season hybrids tend to have higher silage yields. A general guideline is that hybrids planted for silage should be five to 10 days longer in relative maturity than hybrids planted for grain. However, later-maturing hybrids may not be the best choice for a producer wanting early silage or the option to harvest the corn for grain.
¦ Selecting multiple hybrids that range in relatively will widen the harvest window. Harvesting at the correct moisture level is critical for producing high-quality silage, and if missed, can negate the benefits of good hybrid selection. Planting hybrids with a range in maturity also widens the pollination window, thereby reducing the risk that one’s entire crop will experience hot and dry conditions during pollination.
¦ Special agronomic things to consider include herbicide and insect resistance, and tolerance to drought and disease. Standability is less important for silage hybrids than grain hybrids.
¦ Milk per ton is an overall indication of silage quality. It is estimated from forage analyses for crude protein, neutral detergent fiber, NDF digestibility, starch and non-fiber carbohydrates. Once a suitable group of hybrids has been identified based on milk per ton and yield, further selection within this group can be based on specific forage quality and agronomic traits. Consult with a livestock nutritionist to ensure that the selected hybrids will have the necessary nutritional value for your herd.
Source: Jeff Coulter, University of Minnesota corn agronomist
This article published in the November, 2014 edition of DAKOTA FARMER.
All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2014.