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What to ask before ordering seedWhat to ask before ordering seed

Ask specific questions to help you narrow down your seed purchases.

Paula Mohr

September 2, 2016

3 Min Read

With all the seed hybrids and varieties on the market, it helps to narrow your choices when you share specific information with your seed salespeople.

We wondered what several good questions would be to begin discussions with your seed dealer. Responding to our request for questions were Mark Glady, an agronomist with WinField, based in Montevideo, and Joel Leafblad with Dahlman Seed, based in Watkins.

Here are important questions to ask:

• What are the best soils for this hybrid or variety and why?


Soil type determines water-holding capacity. For example, you will want to plant hybrids that tolerate sandy, low-moisture-holding levels on sandy soils, and plant hybrids that tolerate heavy, wet clay soils on that soil type, Glady says.

• How does this hybrid respond to high and low nitrogen fertility?

You’ll need to know your fields’ N fertility levels. Hybrids with high response-to-nitrogen scores are recommended for fields with high N fertility, and hybrids with low RTN scores should go on fields with low N fertility, Glady says.

• If planting soybeans to manage iron deficiency chlorosis, what varieties work best with high pH, soluble salt and carbonate levels?

“Plant varieties of soybeans with high tolerance to IDC if fields have high pH, salt and carbonate levels,” Glady says. “Do not plant varieties that do not have those tolerant characteristics to those field stresses or they will turn yellow and struggle to survive.”

• What varieties work best on continuous corn or rotated ground?

Check out seed company performance trials for ratings in these categories. Glady says his company has a chart that rates hybrid response to continuous corn.

• What hybrids and varieties fit best in my rotation?

That will depend on length of rotation and what seed traits fit best. “Can you take the risk of planting, for example, a Double Pro, or should you stay with SmartStax?” Glady asks. “If you are in a corn-bean rotation, SmartStax is best. If you have beans, wheat or alfalfa in your rotation, you might be able to get by planting a hybrid without corn rootworm protection, but that would still come with a certain amount of risk.”

• What is the response to high versus low seed population for this hybrid or variety?

Again, refer to a seed company’s data to review response to population scores. “A high RTP score mean you can increase population for your area,” Glady says. “Maybe [increase it to] 36,000, if 32,000 is normal for your fields. Hybrids with low RTP scores mean you should plant lower populations relative to what is ‘normal’ on your fields --maybe 28,000 to 30,000 if your normal is 32,000.”

• What are the worst places to position this hybrid or variety, and why?

We want to be certain the right hybrid or variety goes on these acres, Leafblad says.

• Will you look our fields during the growing season and share your observations?

“We will always share our observations and will ask you more questions about your other crops,” Leafblad says.

• Will you show me a package of three hybrids or varieties that will help me spread my risk, versus showing me the best product?

“Planting two to three each of either crop is the best way to minimize all or most of any weather during any growing season,” Leafblad says.

About the Author(s)

Paula Mohr

Editor, The Farmer

Paula Mohr has been editor of The Farmer since 2004. She enjoys covering a wide range of topics that are of interest to Minnesota producers.

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