COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio corn harvest may not be quite wrapped up yet this season, yet growers are already making decisions about hybrids to plant in 2011.
Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension state agronomist, said that hybrid selection is one of the most important management decisions a grower makes each year.
"It's a decision that warrants a careful comparison of performance data," said Thomison, who also holds an appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. "It should not be made in haste or based on limited data. Planting a marginal hybrid or one not suitable for a particular production environment imposes a ceiling on the yield potential for a field before it's been planted."
Thomison recommends that growers choose hybrids that are best suited to their farm operation.
"Corn acreage, previous crop, soil type, tillage practices, desired harvest moisture, and pest problems all determine the relative importance of such traits as dry down, insect and disease resistance, early plant vigor and plant height," said Thomison.
In addition, growers should take into consideration the end uses of corn, such as grain or silage, on-farm use, and food-grade or non-GMO when selecting the right hybrid.
The following tips may help growers when making hybrid selection decisions:
• Select hybrids with maturity ratings appropriate for a geographic area. "Corn for grain should reach physiological maturity or "black layer" one to two weeks before the first killing frost in the fall," said Thomison. Use days-to-maturity, growing degree-day (GDD) ratings, and harvest grain moisture data from performance trials to determine differences in hybrid maturity.
• Choose hybrids that have produced consistently high yields across a number of locations. "Choosing a hybrid simply because it's a "triple stack" or "quad stack" or possesses appealing cosmetic traits, like "flex" ears, will not ensure high yields," said Thomison. "Instead, look for yield consistency across environments. Hybrids will perform differently, based on region, soils and environmental conditions, and growers should not rely solely on one hybrid characteristic or transgenic traits to make their product selection."
• Plant hybrids with good standability to minimize stalk lodging. This is particularly important in areas where stalk rots are perennial problems, or where field drying is anticipated.
• Select hybrids with resistance and/or tolerance to stalk rots, foliar diseases, and ear rots.
• Never purchase a hybrid without consulting performance data. "Results of state, company, and county replicated hybrid performance trials should be reviewed before purchasing hybrids," said Thomison. "Because weather conditions are unpredictable, the most reliable way to select superior hybrids is to consider performance during the last year and the previous year over as wide a range of locations and climatic conditions as possible." If limited to single year data, it's important to try to evaluate a hybrid's performance across a range of different growing conditions.
Look to the Ohio Corn Performance Trials for the most up-to-date performance information at http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/corntrials/. Click on the variety of links along the left-hand side of the page.