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10 reasons to go to preharvest field days

Tom J. Bechman presentation at a field day
GO AND LEARN: Take advantage of field days and come away with more than a free meal.
Breeder’s Journal: Former plant breeder Dave Nanda sees value in field days.

It is more important than ever to keep up with new technologies, equipment, seeds and chemicals. The climate is changing, and those willing to adapt will prosper. A great source of information are field days held before harvest. Some companies did not hold them in 2020, but many will be inviting you this year.

Seed companies showcase their best and newest corn hybrids and soybean varieties in demonstration plots. They bring agronomists to talk not only about products but also about diseases, insects and new technologies. There are very few products where you get a preview of what’s coming down the pike before buying. Field days are a great opportunity to get to know area seed reps and agronomists and ask them questions.

Here are 10 reasons to attend field days:

1. Stay up with change. The pace of new hybrid introductions and trait combinations has become so fast that most hybrids are replaced before they’re 3 years old. Many new hybrid combinations are introduced every year. See the newest ones at field days.

2. Compare favorites vs. challengers. Seed companies plant hybrid and variety demonstration plots that include current hybrids and varieties, along with newer products that will be available next year. Compare what you’re planting now to what you might plant in the future.

3. Compare plant height and ear height. Ear height is a big deal. You want as uniform ear height as possible. Compare plant and ear height and check out if hybrids are too short or too tall for your operation. Are leaves upright or floppy? Would they be suitable for narrow rows or higher populations?

4. “Kick” the plants. These plots are for display and observations, usually not for yield comparisons. Ask first, but in most cases you can “kick the tires,” and check stalk strength and brace roots.

5. Ask about disease and insect tolerance. Check out the diseases and insect tolerance prevalent in the area. Ask the agronomist about foliar fungicides and when they may be used effectively. Ask about new diseases like tar spot and bacterial leaf streak. Could they be a problem for you? Northern corn leaf blight, gray leaf spot and rusts can always be threats.

6. Ask about fungicide use. Will these hybrids need fungicides? What are the economic thresholds for using fungicide? Is needing fungicide more likely on some hybrids than others?

7. Inspect the ear. Unless it’s a plot going to yield, you can peel husks and count kernel rows and number of kernels per row. Estimate yield potential based on plant population.

8. Check out populations. Are there hybrids that look better at high populations than others? Should you increase your population?

9. Exchange ideas. Field days are a great place to network with neighbors and maybe farmers from farther away you don’t see often. Don’t discount the value of these connections.

10. Relax, rest and ask questions. Field days are a great place to sit down, rest and ask questions in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Nanda is director of genetics for Seed Genetics Direct, Jeffersonville, Ohio. Email [email protected], or call 317-910-9876 and leave a message.

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