Seed corn selection strategies for 2013 and beyond

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Do you have all of your 2013 seed corn booked? Are you guaranteed of getting what you want? Will you have some flex acres that could use seed corn next spring, if the soy-corn ratio prefers corn? Have you been told by your seed supplier that some of your order can be filled, but not all, and he’ll have recommendations later? 

With inclement weather in Argentina, will there be late-developing problems with seed supply for US spring planting? All of these questions are plaguing farmers who are trying to wrap up their 2013 seed corn orders. What are the answers?

As seen with your yields in 2012, some seed performed well and others did not do so well, given similar soil and soil moisture characteristics. Planting dates had a lot to do with the performance, but some hybrids that yielded well for you are likely on your 2013 order form. However, there are some good strategies for selecting seed corn for next year, according to Ohio State University agronomist Peter Thomison. He says seed selection is a decision that warrants careful comparison of performance data and should not be done in haste, even though your salesman gave you 5 minutes to make up your mind. He says planting a marginal hybrid imposes a ceiling on the yield potential, and similar maturing hybrids can have an 80 bushel per acre yield variation. That is a $480 difference at current fall cash prices.

Thomison says look at your farm’s characteristics and select hybrids for it, “Corn acreage, previous crop, soil type, tillage practices, desired harvest moisture, and pest problems determine the relative importance of such traits as drydown, insect and disease resistance, herbicide resistance, early plant vigor,  etc.” Decide also if the corn is for grain or silage, sold or fed on the farm, and demands of buyers, such as non-GMO, or specialty hybrids.

Depending on your production system, Thomison provides tips on hybrid selection:

Corn for grain: 

Black layer should be reached 1-2 weeks before the first killing frost; and since drying is a major cost, use Growing Degree Day data from variety trials to evaluate maturity and drydown.  And he says, “One of the most effective strategies for spreading risk, and widening the harvest interval, is planting multiple hybrids of varying maturity.”

Wide area performance: 

Thomison says look for yield performance over a wide geographical area, and do not select a hybrid because of its collection of genetic traits or cosmetic appeal. He says yield consistency across various environments will provide a good yield from year to year. However, he says if you have a corn rootworm problem or corn borer problem, then select the Bt traits that are needed. Additionally, he says a hybrid that offers some degree of drought resistance will likely be promoted and in demand. Thomison says look at the results carefully to ensure it really had drought resistance over a wide area and not just a good performer in a location or two where showers were more plentiful. He said a seemingly superior drought value may also have resulted from the timing of the planting and its pollination period escaped the heat and dryness.


Hybrids with good standability are needed to keep the ear in the air for the combine. Lodged corn yields less and may have been caused by the hybrid’s susceptibility to stalk rots. If fungal problems have been frequent or if field drying is necessary, then standability is a requirement. If facilities are available for drying corn at high moisture, then it may not be an issue. When asking about standability and fungal resistance also inquire about greensnap which is a related issue.

Fungal resistance. 

Check the hybrid to ensure that it has good resistance to fungal issues in your fields or in your region. Those include stalk rots, foliar diseases and ear rots. Most of the spores are in your field, and ready to pounce in the right weather conditions, so fungal resistance is important every year. Damaging problems could result from northern leaf flight, gray leaf spot, Gibberella and diplodia.

Overall performance. 

Before making a purchase, check the performance of the hybrid in your state. Extension researchers have field trials in all states, and publish their data as early as possible to ensure corn growers have the information needed to make good management decisions.  Find your state data here


While most seed corn has been ordered, some farmers are finding they will not get what they want and will have to make alternate choices. If that is the case, conduct your own research on the data for corn hybrids. Look at such issues as, maturity, wide area performance, standability, fungal resistance, and overall performance.

Source: FarmGate blog

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