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MU's Variety Testing Program offers insight this harvest on hybrid performance

Mindy Ward, Editor, Missouri Ruralist

October 2, 2012

4 Min Read

With just three corn plots left to harvest, Howard Mason is surprised at a few yields posted during this year's MU Variety Testing Program.

"In northern Missouri at our Craig location, the average yield was 179-bushel-per-acre," he says. "That is fabulous for this year, but good even for a normal year."

Still Mason, who oversees the university testing program, admits this year was anything but normal. Just 40 miles down the road from Craig at the Albany plot, average yields were in the 40s. And over in Mooresville, the average was 63.9-bushel corn.

"Every region had yields like that," he says.


The university testing program began in the mid-1930s, publishing its first results in 1937. In the early years, companies placed fewer than 50 corn entries in the program. Today, it has grown to more than 215 hybrid entries. Researchers place them in 21 plot locations across the state.

Deserting data

This year, not every location produced usable data. "I was told once that bad data is worse than no data because it tells the wrong story." So Mason made the decision to abandon six plots completely.

Locations like Albany, Adrian, Columbia, and Truxton all suffered from issues relating to the drought. In southwest Missouri, both plots in Lamar, irrigated and non-irrigated, were abandoned after a windstorm caused lodging issues.

Yet while some areas struggled, others in the testing program posted 200-plus bushel corn.

Regional results

Southeast Missouri once again saw the top yield in the entire program on its irrigated land near Charleston. Of the 93 hybrids tested in this region, Stone6354GVT3P yielded 262. The hybrid also posted the highest average across all three locations in the region at 226.7-bushel-per-acre.

"Producers need to understand that these locations added 25 inches of water to their crops," Mason notes. "They had to pour on the water to get results."

Still some areas of the state received timely watering, naturally. "There were areas that just received the right rains at the right time," Mason adds.


Three locations saw yields of more than 200-bushel corn in central Missouri. The Henrietta dry land plot saw DeKalb DKC61-88 GEMVT3P record 201.1-bushel. At the Marshall dry land plot, DeKalb DKC67-57 GENVT3P posted 206-bushel. On irrigated land, Lewis 1313VT3P saw its average for both Columbia and Laddonia site over 200 bushel corn, with a high of 210.3 at the MU Bradford Research Center.

However, for the third year in a row, results from the southwestern part of the state were low. It was difficult to decide which locations to abandon in this region of the state. Mason says that dry land trials at Urich yielded on average 37-bushel corn.

"It was really bad again for these guys," he says.

Still he kept in Harrisonville where the top yielding hybrid was Lewis 1300VT2P at 86.3-bushel corn. Of the 49 hybrids in the trial for this region, it was also the highest yielding hybrid with 48.2-bushel.

Deciphering data

Mason says that one thing producers can look for is how well those hybrids with drought genes yielded this year. Each company has its own name for the gene, so producers should look for those. "For those with AQUAmax, it is clearly listed in the hybrid names," Mason points out.

This year was the type of scenario these genes were designed for, he adds. Farmers can look through individual plot data or regional data to see just how well they performed.

Still, Mason cautions farmers to look at multiple points of data before making hybrid selections for 2013. "You need to look at regional data, individual location data that is close to your operation and multiple years. Don't just base your decision on one year and one location."

Results for the corn portion of the MU Variety Testing Program are available online. Soybean data will come online as soon as harvest begins.

About the Author(s)

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

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