Sorting Thru the Chaff

Larry Veith, Seed Specialist (507) 923-5628

It has been a longer harvest than we have been use to over the last few years, but hopefully, all the long, hard days have been worth it. Although the soybean yields were down from the previous few years, they were overall likely to be above average in most cases. The overall corn yields, however, have been outstanding! We should all be thankful that in spite of low commodity prices, the yields have helped soften that disappointment.

Now the challenge comes in picking the right hybrids and varieties for next growing season, and there are lots of them. In corn, we look and have to wonder if what we saw this year in regards to yields is an anomaly, or are we on the continued sharp upward rise in corn yields that have been experienced over the last 4 years?  How much impact are some of the new management options contributing? As with most things, it is never just one thing, but several that are contributing to these increasing yields. But make no mistake, improvements in hybrid genetics are the driving force behind the new dawn of corn yields.

I have not seen all the data yet from this fall’s harvest, but I can say with confidence that many of the newer hybrids are definitely giving us better plant agronomics and yield. With so many good choices, how does one sift through the barrage of plot data you will be looking at and pouring over in the next few weeks? Our partners at Winfield have put together a good piece on how to approach yield data, and making the most of what you are looking at.

Please review the attached article: “Yield trial data: Where do you start? “ It will hopefully give you a better understanding of making sense of harvest data, and hopefully making the best decisions for your situation.

One giant piece of the puzzle that yield data will NOT tell you; “do the agronomics of the hybrid or variety fit your situation?” Yield is usually the driving factor in determining hybrids/varieties to plant, but not the only one. Please put time and thought in your decisions and don’t just jump at the first “pretty face“   you see in plot data. Check out the agronomics of your choices and ask yourself “does this hybrid/variety fit my management style and operation?” .  Check data from many locations and areas to give yourself the big picture on hybrid and variety consistency over a wider range of environmental conditions, not just those in your backyard. You never know from year to year what conditions will be like, and the more consistent your seed choice performs over a larger area, the better chance you have to see it perform well on your farm next year.

Remember, your seed choice for next year should NOT be entirely made on what you saw this year, which is what we often do. IF you know one thing for certain, it is that next year’s growing season will NOT be like this years, and no hybrid/variety performs exactly the same year in and year out in all environments….NONE of THEM!  That is why you need to look at as many plots as possible from many locations, and not just those locally, which may give you a false reading on a variety/hybrids true potential.  

Finally, how do you analyze the price of a hybrid? Is the cheapest hybrid the one to plant? Maybe/Maybe NOT? Price in and of itself is only a starting point. ROI, Return on Investment, is what successful operators focus on. How much return can I expect for every dollar invested in seed? A higher yielding corn variety that is wetter than a competitor may not be the better ROI hybrid when factoring in drying costs or delaying harvest waiting for it to dry down.

Put some time and thought into your seed buying decision and you will have a much better chance to be smiling over your yields next year.  

I wanted to also say that the staff at All American Co-op Progressive Ag Center thoroughly enjoy the time we spend with you, helping with the decision making process when it comes to agricultural inputs for your farm. For us to be successful, you must be successful; we are a team working together for a common good and purpose. Thank you for putting your trust in us. Happy Holidays, and we look forward to seeing you again soon! 

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