Choosing corn hybrids for next growing season
In a year when tremendous variability was observed within fields as well as among areas of the state, information from replicated trials like the University of Minnesota trials is particularly valuable.
Since we can't predict next year's growing conditions, it's important to select hybrids that perform well over multiple locations within a region. Hybrids that consistently perform well over multiple environment, including different soil and weather conditions, have greater potential to perform well the next year, compared to hybrids with less consistence performance.
Below are University of Minnesota Extension grain and silage hybrid selection recommendations based on the results from the 2012 University of Minnesota corn grain and silage trials.
Considerations for grain hybrid selection:
Hybrid selection begins with maturity. Early Growing Degree Day (GDD) accumulation, combined with an early planting season overall, caused corn to mature early in 2012. In planning for next year, identify an acceptable maturity range based on the number GDDs required for a hybrid to reach physiological maturity (black layer).
Detailed information about the number of GDDs available for corn production for multiple locations along with information on the relationship between GDDs and corn relative maturity (RM) is available at: http://z.umn.edu/ak0
Plant multiple hybrids of varying maturity to spread risk, and widen the harvest interval.
There is more variability in yield among hybrids within a given RM rating than there is between maturity groups. Detailed information on corn grain yields and harvest moisture for various RMs across Minnesota is available at: http://z.umn.edu/ak1
Hybrids should also be selected according to agronomic traits such as standability, disease tolerance, emergence, and the need for transgenic resistance to insects and herbicides within a given production system.
Considerations for silage hybrid selection:
One of the first things to consider when selecting silage hybrids is maturity. Longer-season hybrids tend to have higher silage yields. A general guideline is that hybrids planted for silage should be five to 10 days longer in RM than the hybrids planted for grain.
Select hybrids that have a range in RM, as this widens the harvest window. Harvesting at the correct moisture level is critical for producing high quality silage, and if missed, can negate the benefits of good hybrid selection.
Other important agronomic considerations when selecting silage hybrids include herbicide and insect resistance for the given cropping system, and tolerance to drought and disease.
Since corn silage is an energy source for animal performance, producers should consider both silage quality and yield when selecting hybrids. Consulting with a livestock nutritionist during the hybrid selection process helps to ensure that selected hybrids will have the necessary nutritive value for your herd.
Results of the 2012 University of Minnesota corn grain and silage trials are available online at the following links:
2012 Corn Grain Hybrid Trial Results: http://z.umn.edu/corn2012
2012 Corn Silage Hybrid Trial Results: http://z.umn.edu/cornsilage2012
For more information about corn production, visit the Extension website at: http://www.extension.umn.edu/corn.
Jeff Coulter is a corn agronomist and Liz Stahl is a crops educator; both are with University of Minnesota Extension.