There are so many hybrids out there, it can be overwhelming to decide which are right for your farm. And on top of choosing the right options, you also have to pick the right placements.
Plenty of variables impact which hybrids do well in specific environments (and which ones don’t). Chief among those factors is genetic makeup. AgriGold classifies hybrids into one of five genetic families, and you can find details for each at the bottom of this post.
Taking into consideration those genetics, plus other factors like soil type, field management practices, and harvest timing, will help you plant hybrids exactly where they need to go to meet your yield goals.
As you make a plan for where to plant which hybrids, here are the top questions to consider:
What type of fields do you have?
Across one operation, a grower might have a wide variety of field types: flat land or rolling hills, low-lying or poor drainage areas, different soil types, etc. It pays to choose hybrids best suited to your individual environments.
Soil type and topography are particularly important. This is mostly because of a plant’s root structure. Variance in that structure affects whether a plant is able to use a field’s available resources.
AgriGold classifies hybrids into three root styles:
Course: Plants with this root structure can root deeper into the soil to anchor plants and capture nutrients and moisture further below the surface.
Fibrous: These excel in tight, heavy soils and capture nutrients/moisture that are often richer near the surface.
Modified: This structure combines both deep and shallow roots to anchor plants—which means they can capture moisture and nutrients near the surface or deeper below the soil.
What are your yield goals/history for a field?
Which genetic characteristics you prioritize when choosing your hybrids can often depend on past field management practices. For instance:
Irrigation: If your fields are irrigated, lean towards top-yielding hybrids with good standability. Since irrigated fields are such an optimal environment, plant populations tend to be higher, which leads to a need for higher stalk strength to survive.
Population: As populations go up, corn stalks’ diameters tend to decrease. This leads to more disease issues and poor standability. Within tougher acres, populations usually decrease, leading to thicker diameters, and higher stalk strength. So if you’re planting in an area with a high population, prioritize hybrids with higher disease defense and good standability scores.
Nitrogen use: Different hybrids respond to nitrogen use at different points in the season. This is where a grower’s historical field management is important. If you’re applying nitrogen in-season, you can choose a hybrid that utilizes that nitrogen late into the season. But if you prefer to apply all nitrogen in the pre-plant stage, you should pick a hybrid with more flexible utilization.
Where do you plan to start harvesting?
Not all hybrids are created equal when it comes to late-season intactness.
Growers will typically have an idea of what fields they want to plant first (and thus an idea of their harvest order). But if you have hybrids with poor late-season stalk and root strength in late-to-harvest fields, you could be looking at yield losses.
That’s why it’s important to use the hybrid profile guide to see which varieties rate higher on stalk and root strength. Plant these in the fields where harvesting might happen later in the season. Those with lower rankings can go in the fields that get harvested first.
What are your diseases and insect challenges?
Let’s say you’ve done the research and considered genetic family, soil type, drainage, water management, and nitrogen application schedules. You’ve found the “perfect” placements for your hybrid. Yet those acres can still exhibit poor yield performance, if slapped with disease or a wave of insect damage. Rootworm damage, for example, can lead to disastrous yields if left unchecked. Tar Spot has quickly become a major disease over the last decade and can slash your yields.
But most disease and insect problems arise from field history and management styles—which means those problems can be preventable to a certain extent. For example, corn-on-corn acres tend to see higher levels of anthracnose, both in early and late season.
Instituting a robust fungicide program can be a major help, along with insecticides (in-furrow and post). But if you have specific recurring issues, prioritizing genetic tolerance when considering hybrids will go even further. Choosing a hybrid with stronger trait protection can make a huge difference with particularly challenging problems, like Corn Rootworm or European Corn Borer.
Choosing the right hybrids and designing the right planting map for them doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Think through your previous field management practices, consider your soil type and topography, evaluate what pest or disease challenges you face, and prioritize planting hybrids with genetic characteristics that match with your individual environment.
Want more info on each of the five families AgriGold uses to classify hybrids? Learn about our FieldGX families, and contact your local AgriGold agronomy expert to chat more about the characteristics of your fields and which hybrids can maximize your yields.