Think outside the box to pick varieties
Even if you’ve already selected varieties for 2012, you still can double-check yourself. Are the right varieties paired up in the right field?
“You’re after two things — yield potential and yield consistency,” says Shaun Casteel, Purdue University Extension soybean specialist. “You need to look at them together.”
• Look for both yield potential and yield consistency when picking varieties.
• Multistate data from independent tests can be useful in narrowing choices.
• Make sure variety is well-suited for particular challenges in each field.
Go outside the box — don’t just settle for data supplied by your seedsman. You’ve probably seen the commercial where a used car buyer says, “Show me the Carfax.” The used car dealer squirms. A reputable salesman won’t squirm. Simply ask to see data from independent studies.
The Purdue University hybrid and variety testing program, headed up by Phil DeVillez, added a feature — multistate comparisons. Obtaining data from four neighboring state testing programs, the Purdue website allows you to see how the same variety performs under various conditions. Visit www.ag.purdue.
“You want to see how varieties performed in multiple growing environments, and this is a good way to do it,” Casteel explains. Varieties in the multistate data are listed as percent of the highest yielding variety in the individual trial, rather than for actual yield.
“Bushels per acre don’t mean anything when comparing a plot in central Illinois vs. a plot in northeastern Indiana,” he explains. The key is how the variety compared to the top yielder in that environment, not what it actually produced, Casteel emphasizes.
“If you can find one that’s in the top 90% across all environments, that’s what you’re looking for,” Casteel says.
Match to field
The other secret is to inventory the challenges on your farm field by field, he notes. Do you have problems with soybean cyst nematode? Are there wet soils that set soybeans up for phytophthora root rot? Select varieties that stand up to these challenges in independent tests.
Traditional thought says you ought to pick the fullest-season variety for your area. The theory is that if it’s fuller season, it will make maximum use of the growing season and yield more.
“There are some 3.2 varieties doing very well where the full-season variety is a 3.8,” Casteel notes. “Spread your risk and timing by planting some of both.”
This article published in the January, 2012 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.