Evaluate Numerous Sources When Choosing Corn Hybrids

January 3, 2002

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Farmers should evaluate corn performance data from as many locations as possible when choosing hybrids to plant next season.

Ohio State University agronomist Peter Thomison said that results of the 2001 Ohio Corn Performance Trials showed that variable environmental conditions throughout the state during the growing season affected the performance of corn from county to county and even field to field within a county. Results of the test are available online at http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/corn2001.

"The main thing that stood out was stalk lodging that was so severe this year. A hybrid at one location lodged significantly, while the same hybrid in an adjacent field didn't lodge at all," said Thomison. "The one message that farmers should come away with is that it's very important for them to use as many sources of information as possible to determine hybrids with good standability." In past performance trials, lodging in hybrids has often been limited or negligible - normally less than five percent. In this year's trial, average lodging ranged from 23-25 percent with some hybrids experiencing as high as 80 percent lodging. Stalk lodging, the final stage of stalk rot, is the breakage of stalks below the ear. Stalk lodging slows down harvest and causes a loss in yield from corn that falls to the ground.

"The results demonstrate that the environment can have a big impact on corn performance within such a small area and that what hybrids you choose and what management practices you follow can have major consequences on yield." Ohio State researchers evaluated 229 corn hybrids representing 39 commercial brands for such characteristics as yield, standability, maturity and quality traits like protein, oil and starch contents. The hybrids were split into early-maturing and late-maturing categories in the hopes that the difference in maturity would provide a more accurate assessment of hybrid performance.

"The 2001 trials were a study in contrast," said Thomison. "For example, yields were all over the board." Average yield in southwest Ohio climbed to 177 bushels per acre where rainfall was ample, while drought conditions in the northeast region of the state kept yields between 137 and 142 bushels per acre.

"Despite the drought conditions in the northeast, the hybrids managed to eke out some decent yields. The southwest got good yields, but it came with a price as the ample rainfall created shallow root systems that stressed out the plant enough to cause eventual stalk lodging problems," said Thomison.

Though no one can predict how weather will affect corn performance, growers can choose hybrids that may perform well under a variety of environmental conditions, as well as be willing to modify management practices.

"For example, if stalk quality and avoidance of lodging is important to a farmer, then a good practice would be to harvest early instead of waiting for corn to dry below 20 percent grain moisture, or choosing a hybrid that shows good standability if the farmer plans to keep his corn in the field longer than normal," said Thomison. "The important thing is to choose a hybrid package that offers performance characteristics that will buffer the crop from different environmental conditions."

Author(s): 
Candace Pollock
Source(s): 
Peter Thomison