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3 Factors To Consider Before You Pick Hybrids For 2022

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If you tend to select corn hybrids based on how they performed under weather conditions in a given season, there is a better strategy.

“Plan for a normal crop – hope for the biggest crop of your career – and then mitigate the risk of a drought or crop failure,” advises Ken Ferrie, Farm Journal Field Agronomist and owner of Crop-Tech Consulting near Heyworth, Ill.

Ferrie says to start the hybrid-selection process by looking at each of your fields individually, taking into consideration three factors: water-holding capacity, yield history and planting populations.

First things first. Investigate each field’s usable, water-holding capacity under your current management style. A good indicator of this is your yield history – in drier years – by field.

This information can also be compiled from past yield maps, aerial imagery taken throughout the years, soil type maps, topography maps of the fields as well as personal observation from previous cropping seasons.

Once you know the water-holding capacity and yield history, you can set a realistic yield goal for each field.

“Then, between your individual field experience and the help of your seedsman pick a hybrid and planting population for that field,” Ferrie says.

Keep in mind that your planting population and final plant stand will differ.

“Corn responds to the actual plant population in the field, not directly to the seeding rate, because percent stand success is rarely 100%,” says Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Extension corn agronomist. “In our own field trials, we know that average percent stand is 95%. For other folks, that number may be 90% or 98% or 85%.”

Pick a mix of maturities. You can mitigate yield risk further by selecting and using a mix of hybrid maturities in fields to spread out the timing of corn pollination.

“Designate hybrids as early, medium and late-maturing for your area,” Ferrie says. “Plan to put half to two-thirds of hybrids in the maturity group that works the best on your acres, then split the remaining acres between the other two. Then plant the early ones first and the late ones last.”

Once you have a solid plan in place for 2022, make sure everyone on your team knows what it is and is ready to follow it.

“We don’t just grab the pallet of seed closest to the door of the shed and start planting,” Ferrie says. “Follow your plan all the way through. If it gets interrupted, rethink the plan, make a new one and then follow that one through.”

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