Choosing the right corn hybrids is one of the most important decisions a grower will make. But it won’t be the easiest.
Considering the sheer volume of choices out there, comparing those hybrids to specific growing conditions, evaluating price and more can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, this process can have several pitfalls.
These are the top five mistakes farmers make when choosing their corn hybrids:
Overemphasizing performance under specific weather conditions
Just because a particular hybrid performed a certain way under X weather conditions doesn’t mean that performance will always be guaranteed under the same conditions. Putting too much emphasis on this variable can be a big mistake.
Instead, it’s important to consider a broader range of factors. When choosing a hybrid, think about the bigger picture, including disease history, drainage conditions, pest risk, soil type and management practices. Climate or precipitation predictions should be considered. But they shouldn’t drive the whole choice.
To manage risk, it’s important to diversify. This is true in other fields, like investment — but it’s certainly true in crop fields as well. When a wider variety of hybrids is planted, the weakness of any one hybrid doesn’t have an outsized impact on performance.
When selecting hybrids to plant, yield potential should be top priority. However, also consider planting hybrids with different relative maturities, disease resistance and other traits.
Failing to consider disease tolerance and insect package traits
It’s important to consider historical disease trends in specific fields or regions. From there, choose hybrids that offer above-average disease ratings to effectively manage those potential issues.
Picking out a group of hybrids with high disease tolerance can also help farmers avoid expensive fungicide treatments down the road. A common mistake growers make is solely focusing on treatment plans after the fact — rather than proactive prevention through hybrid selection.
Another important consideration is to pay attention to local trends and talk with a trusted agronomist about potential disease or pest problems in an area. If a specific disease, like tar spot, has been on the rise in that region for each of the last 10 years, it’s likely that a hybrid that offers some resistance to that disease will perform better.
Not utilizing comprehensive data and early purchase benefits
There’s now more data than ever in the agriculture world. While it can be overwhelming to try to manage or evaluate all that’s available, taking some data into consideration for seed selection is crucial.
Accurate, comprehensive data including historical performance and response-to scores for population, fungicide and nitrogen applications can better inform hybrid selection.
It’s also important to think about the potential financial benefits of specific hybrids (beyond yields). Early purchase benefits are often available for certain seeds. Plus, a wider range of options might be accessible early in a season. It’s extremely helpful to be more strategic by considering these benefits.
Only considering the purchase cost
Seed cost is an important consideration — and always will be. However, this shouldn’t be the only factor driving selection decisions.
Evaluate early-order discounts from above to determine which hybrids could be the smartest financial decision in the short-term.
But zoom out to the long-term picture, too. Estimate a potential return on investment for specific seeds based on their yield potential, disease or pest risk, cost of other inputs you might need, etc.
For more help with choosing the right hybrids for your specific fields and goals, reach out to your local AgriGold agronomist.