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Find your farm’s next best seedFind your farm’s next best seed

University variety trials give data and insight into new seed varieties.

Sarah McNaughton

July 13, 2023

2 Min Read
soybean pods in a field at sunset
SEED TRENDS: Check out your land-grant university for data on the performance of different varieties of a crop.paulobaqueta/Getty images

With seed technologies and traits constantly changing and improving, where do you turn to for choosing the best variety for your fields? Enter, variety trials.

Land-grant universities conduct and publish trial data annually, where different varieties of a crop are grown alongside each other to compare their performance. These trials happen in test plots across the country. Universities offer historical data on these trials, so an accurate picture of variety performance can be seen over time and under a variety of environmental conditions.

They deliver growers key results that can be used as a tool to evaluate how each hybrid or variety can fit into their operation.

Understand data

The data available in reports contain maturity rating, yield, moisture percentage, test weight, final stands, lodging percentages, and more.

There may be some variance in published data from different institutions, so take them into consideration when reviewing results. These may include:

  • Certain crops may have more specialized results, such as soybean cyst nematode resistance in soybean trials. Each university may publish slightly different reports, including moisture percentage and lodging scores.

  • Production methods including tillage and seeding rates may be part of the results. If performance of a hybrid or variety obtained in one season is limited, look for historical data on the hybrid you’re evaluating for a clearer picture.

  • Outside factors including rainfall, soil conditions, diseases, an insect pressure are assumed to be similar in each test, but differences are possible.

  • Each variety belongs to a brand name, but often carries a number like Thunder Seed’s T6300 VT2P.

Get first-hand explanation

If hesitant to wade through a publication for results, consider attending local field days or contacting your research Extension center instead. Tours of trial fields let attendees see variety plots and ask questions of research experts.

When planning for the next growing season, you might find your farm’s next top variety from your land-grant university.

University of Nebraska Lincoln and University of Minnesota contributed to this article.

About the Author(s)

Sarah McNaughton

Editor, Dakota Farmer, Farm Progress

Sarah McNaughton is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture communications, along with minors in animal science and Extension education. She is working on completing her master’s degree in Extension education and youth development, also at NDSU. In her undergraduate program, she discovered a love for the agriculture industry and the people who work in it through her courses and involvement in professional and student organizations.

After graduating college, Sarah worked at KFGO Radio out of Fargo, N.D., as a farm and ranch reporter. She covered agriculture and agribusiness news for North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Most recently she was a 4-H Extension agent in Cass County, N.D., teaching, coordinating and facilitating youth programming in various project areas.

She is involved in agriculture in both her professional and personal life, serving on the executive board for North Dakota Agri-Women, and as a member in American Agri-Women, Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority Alumni and Professional Women in Agri-business. As a life-long 4-H’er, she is a regular volunteer for North Dakota 4-H programs and events.

In her free time, she is an avid backpacker and hiker, enjoys running with her cattle dog Ripley, and can be found most summer weekends at rodeos around the Midwest.

Sarah is originally from Grand Forks, N.D., and currently resides in Fargo.

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