Corn harvest 2017 is about wrapped up in our area and while some 2018 corn hybrid decisions have already been made, others are still debating choices and selection. Peter Thomison, OSU Extension corn specialist provides the following comments regarding 2018 hybrid selection.
Hybrid selection is one of the most important management decisions a corn grower makes each year. It’s a decision that warrants a careful comparison of performance data. Do not decide in haste or based on limited data. Planting a marginal hybrid, or one not suitable for a particular production environment, imposes a ceiling on the yield potential of a field even before planting. In the Ohio Corn Performance Test (OCPT) (http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/corntrials/) it is not unusual for hybrid entries of similar maturity to differ in yield by 50 bu/A or more, depending on test site. As commodity prices have dropped, seed cost has become an added consideration in hybrid selection.
Growers should choose hybrids best suited to their farm operation. 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. Consider corn end use - is corn to be used for grain or silage? Will it be sold directly to the elevator as shelled grain or used on the farm? Are there premiums available at nearby elevators, or from end users, for identity-preserved (IP) specialty corns such as food grade or non-GMO corn? Capacity to harvest, dry and store grain also needs consideration. The following are some tips to consider in choosing hybrids that are best suited to various production systems.
1. Select hybrids with maturity ratings appropriate for your geographic area or circumstances. Corn for grain should reach physiological maturity or "black layer" (maximum kernel dry weight) one to two weeks before the first killing frost in the fall. Grain drying can be a major cost in corn production. Use days-to-maturity, growing degree day (GDD) ratings, and harvest grain moisture data from performance trials to determine differences in hybrid maturity and drydown. One of the most effective strategies for spreading risk, and widening the harvest interval, is planting multiple hybrids of varying maturity.
2. Choose hybrids that have produced consistently high yields across a number of locations. Choosing a hybrid simply because it contains the most stacked transgenic traits, or possesses appealing cosmetic traits, like “flex” ears, will not ensure high yields; instead, look for yield consistency across environments. When planting fields where corn rootworm (RW), European corn borer (ECB) and Western Bean Cutworm (WBC) are likely to be problems, Bt traits offer outstanding protection and may mitigate the impact of other stress conditions.
3. 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 field drying is anticipated. The potential for stalk lodging increases at higher plant populations (usually above 32,000 -33,000 plants per acre) but many hybrids can tolerate higher final stands. Corn growers should consult with their seed dealer on hybrid sensitivity to stalk lodging, root lodging and greensnap (pre-tassel stalk brakeage caused by wind).
4. Select hybrids with resistance and/or tolerance to the most common stalk rots, foliar diseases, and ear rots. These include northern corn leaf blight, gray leaf spot, Gibberella, Anthracnose and Diplodia stalk rots and Gibberella and Diplodia ear rots. Corn growers should obtain information from their seed dealer on hybrid reactions to specific diseases that have caused problems or that have occurred locally.
5. Review results of university/extension, company, and county replicated hybrid performance trials before purchasing hybrids. 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.
Census of Agriculture
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has started mailing the 2017 Census of Agriculture to farms. All census questionnaires should be received by mid- to late December. The deadline to respond is February 5, 2018. Producers can respond online at www.agcensus.usda.gov or by mail. Conducted once every five years, the census aims to get a complete and accurate picture of American agriculture. Trade associations, researchers, policymakers, extension educators, agribusinesses, and many others use census data. The data can play a vital role in community planning, farm assistance programs, technology development, farm advocacy, agribusiness setup, rural development, and more. The census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the nation. Every response matters. Every voice helps shape the future of U.S. agriculture. For more information, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call (800) 727-9540.