Help for choosing corn hybrids for next season

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Growers should compare performance data carefully before making a corn hybrid selection for the 2013 growing season, considering that planting a marginal hybrid could cap yield potential before the field is even planted, an Ohio State University Extension expert says.

Hybrid selection is one of the most important management decisions a corn grower makes each year and even more so coming out of a drought, said Peter Thomison, an OSU Extension agronomist.

“Growers should choose hybrids best suited to their farm operations,” he said. “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 and early plant vigor.”

Growers should also make their hybrid decisions on whether the corn will be used for grain or silage and if they plan to sell it directly to grain elevators or instead use it on the farm, Thomison said.

A list of other Thomison recommendations:

  • Select hybrids with maturity ratings appropriate for your geographic area.
  • Choose hybrids that have produced consistently high yields across a number of locations. Hybrids will perform differently based on region, soils and environmental conditions. Growers should not rely solely on one hybrid characteristic or transgenic trait, to make their product selection.
  • Plant hybrids with good standability to minimize stalk lodging (stalk breakage below the ear). This is particularly important in areas where stalk rots are perennial problems or where growers anticipate drying grain in the field.
  • Select hybrids with resistance or tolerance to stalk rots, foliar diseases and ear rots. Consult the Ohio Field Crops Diseases web page online at for the most common disease problems of corn in Ohio.
  • Check performance data before buying a hybrid. Because weather conditions are unpredictable, the most reliable way to select superior hybrids is to consider performance during the last year and the previous year over as wide a range of locations and climatic conditions as possible.

Thomison said it’s important that growers are alert to the performance data source and try to get as much data as possible on their hybrid choices.

“Given the record high temperatures and dry conditions during the 2012 growing season, many farmers will be focusing on drought resistance ratings of corn hybrids,” he said. “When evaluating results of hybrid performance trials affected by drought, care must be taken in interpreting the results.

“Did a hybrid yield well under drought stress because it genuinely possesses some drought resistance or because it escaped the impact of high temperatures and drought by flowering before or after the worst of the stress?”

Hybrids that consistently perform well across a range of environmental conditions, including different soil and weather conditions, have a much greater likelihood of performing well the next year, compared to hybrids that have exhibited more variable performance, Thomison said.

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