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10 reasons to attend field days this year10 reasons to attend field days this year

Corn Illustrated: Here’s why you should attend a field day in 2022.

Dave Nanda

July 26, 2022

3 Min Read
Dave Nanda standing in corn field
COMPARE SIDE BY SIDE: Walk into plots at field days and make side-by-side comparisons of hybrids, like Dave Nanda does here. Tom J. Bechman

This is the year to go to a couple of field days, even if it’s not your favorite activity. Besides checking out new hybrids displayed by the seed companies, visit with other farmers and learn about their crop condition in this tough season. It’s been so hot and dry in many areas, though farmers in some areas have been lucky to get timely rains.

Set yourself a goal. Come home with 10 takeaways from every field day, besides a free meal and free hat or pen. That will guarantee it’s a good investment of your time. Here are 10 areas where you can look for concrete information to take home:

1. Sneak peek at newest hybrids and varieties. Every year, seed companies showcase their best and newest varieties in demonstration plots to exhibit their products and invite area farmers to observe them. See what’s coming down the pike in your own environment before buying seed for the following year.

2. Side-by-side comparisons. See these new hybrids and varieties in the same plots with current hybrids and varieties. Form your own conclusions. It’s much easier than trying to make rational judgments from glossy catalogs.

3. Tips from agronomists. Field days are a great opportunity to get to know seed sales reps and agronomists and ask them questions. They’re also a good chance for you to give feedback to these people.

4. Plant and ear height. Compare plant and ear height. Are they too short or too tall for your operation? How do they compare with what you are currently growing? Is plant height uniform?

5. Leaf type. Are leaves upright or floppy and more conventional? Would they be suitable for narrow rows or high plant density?

6. Firsthand look. Field day plots are usually for display and observations. To be courteous, make sure the plots will not be taken to yield. Then feel free to check stalks and brace roots. Push or pinch stalks to test stalk integrity.

7. Fungicide decisions. Ask about disease and insect tolerance of various hybrids and varieties. Ask the agronomist about foliar fungicides. When can they be used effectively? Northern corn leaf blight and gray leaf spot have been rampant during the last few years. Their inoculum is already in the debris of previous crops. So, disease tolerance of hybrids is going to be important, especially if foliar fungicides were not used this year and more moisture returns.

8. Economic thresholds. What are economic thresholds for using fungicides or insecticides this year? Take the Purdue University Corn & Soybean Field Guide to the field day with you and do your own scouting and see if economic thresholds would be triggered in the plots you see.

9. Tar spot. Check out tolerance to tar spot. It can cause a lot of damage in certain conditions.

10. Estimated yield potential. In these demo plots, you may want to peel husks back and count the number of kernel rows and kernels per row to estimate yield potential based on plant population. See how it compares to your current corn crop at home.

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

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