Helping farmers select corn hybrids to buy

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Growers are told to turn to their seed dealer or crop advisor for the answers to specific questions in selecting seed corn hybrids by the South Dakota State University Extension. The questions to ask are the ones any farmer should be expected to ask and a seed dealer and crop advisor should be ready to answer in any corn production state.

SDSU Extension also says to use hybrid performance trials from third parties, and in South Dakota that means the published SDSU Extension hybrid performance trials. The scale of such trials differs from state to state across the Corn Belt.

It is interesting to note that huge regions of South Dakota that only a few years ago were wheat country have been switched to corn as the primary crop.

Nathan Mueller, SDSU Extension agronomist says selecting hybrids each year is one of the most important routine decisions producers make that drives profitability. "In 2011, the average corn price received in South Dakota was $6.05 per bushel—only to be higher in 2012," he said. He added that in both the 2011 and 2012 SDSU trials, the average difference between the lowest and highest yielding hybrid was 49 bushels per acre.

"These values highlight the potential maximum impact hybrid selection can have on profitability," he said. Selecting a group of proven top-performing hybrids to plant on a farm will also help minimize the chance that a particular environmental factor, disease, or insect may “preferentially impact all of them.”  

He said, “Your time and effort in making an informed decision on selecting hybrids will make good on its return."

Growers need answers to important buying decision, Mueller compiled a list of considerations that growers need answered and that seed dealers and crop advisors should be ready to answer about hybrids:

  • Availability and seed cost
  • Yield potential, yield stability, and maturity
  • Yield limiting factors (diseases, insects, etc.)
  • Management practices on a farm and the best ones for specific hybrids
  • Available traits and technologies
  • Company yield data
  • Third-party hybrid performance trial results.

"Your seed dealer or crop advisor should be able to help you gather most of this information including yield data from third-party hybrid performance trials to help identify top performing hybrids that match your soils, climate, pest problems, and management," he has been telling farmers.

"If you are concerned that you will miss out on the earliest pay discounts by waiting for third-party trials results to be released, seed companies often will let you pay for a seed order without specifying the hybrid until later. Please check with your seed company on this policy," Mueller said.

South Dakota State University (SDSU) corn hybrid performance trial results are available online at

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