Growers can learn about how their seed genetics performed by looking at clues in their fields at harvest. Getting out ahead of the combine to take notes about what they see is the first step to improving hybrid selection for the coming year.
AgriGold Regional Agronomists Steven Heightchew and Kris Young agree that unbiased evaluation is key. Making seed choices too quickly or planting them in the wrong environment are two common mistakes that result in poor performance despite excellent genetic potential.
So what should growers be noticing when it comes to their fields? Here are Heightchew and Young’s top tips for evaluating performance and seed selection success.
Evaluate standability. Look at your fields to ensure the hybrid not only tolerated the soils and nutrient applications while it grew, but that it excelled the whole growing season.
Compare stalks at black layer. AgriGold hybrids have a very specific look: brown husks on green plants. This indicates that carbohydrates are produced by the corn plant to the very end of seed fill. Many hybrids have brown stalks with dead tissue, meaning photosynthesis stopped before ears reached their full yield potential. This “die and dry” not only limits yields, it can cause standability issues.
Examine stalk diameter and ear fill. Stalk diameters should be consistent, and ears should have the same number of rows and kernels in a row. The more uniformity, the better your yield prospect.
Look at kernel dent. Kernel dent is also an indicator of growth. It varies with genetics but the smaller the dent, the more the hybrid packed into each kernel.
Note insect or disease damage. Are there signs of insect or disease damage that should be prevented in next year’s crop? If so, be sure to select for the correct trait or disease tolerance.
Schedule a ride-along. When it’s time for the combine to roll, invite your seed representative or agronomist to ride along. While you’re watching the monitor and making equipment adjustments, they can be looking for performance issues you may not see.
Once you’ve gathered the data, it’s important to talk with experts and review resources to make final decisions. AgriGold’s key account specialists and seed guide offer a wealth of information that includes results from on-farm field trials, placement recommendations and performance stats.
Customers can also use digital tools such as Climate FieldView™ and Advantage Acre® to account for weather and other environmental factors in the planning process.
A final piece of advice from these agronomists:
“Each year presents a different growing season which can greatly affect how a specific hybrid will perform. As a result, rely on multi-year data when selecting hybrids, plant multiple hybrids across the farm with different genetic backgrounds and spread out planting dates to help minimize risk.”