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Not all hybrids are created equal when it comes to grain qualityNot all hybrids are created equal when it comes to grain quality

Some hybrids qualify as food-grade hybrids, and some are better-suited for other purposes.

Tom Bechman 1

November 21, 2016

2 Min Read

Look at the picture below carefully. Corn kernels shelled from Hybrid A are on the right side of the picture. Corn kernels from Hybrid B are on the left. What do you notice about these groups of kernels that set them apart?

Kevin Cavanaugh, Beck’s director of research, points out four things:

1. Size and shape of kernels. The kernels from Hybrid B on the left tend to be longer and slightly plumper than those of Hybrid A. If you could look at a cross-section of an ear from each hybrid, kernels from Hybrid B would be deeper and fuller.


2. Test weight. While you can’t tell just by looking, and while both hybrids typically have test weights above 56 pounds per bushel, test weight for Hybrid B tends to be 1 pound or more per bushel higher than test weight for Hybrid A.

3. Color scheme. Look carefully at the kernels from Hybrid A on the right. There are reddish streaks running through some of them. There are no red streaks in the kernels from Hybrid B on the left. If you’re feeding livestock or selling corn to an ethanol plant, reddish tinge to kernels makes no difference, Cavanaugh says. But if you’re marketing corn to a company to make corn chips, it’s a big deal. Consumers don’t expect to see red streaks in their corn chips.

4. Starch quality. You can get some indication of starch quality by looking, and the hardness of the starch is easiest to tell by examining the kernels. Kernels from Hybrid B have a harder type of starch. That makes Hybrid B more desirable for a company wanting food-grade corn because the harder starch makes large grit size. It is more valuable than corn flour, which results from softer starch.

As it turns out, Hybrid B is on at least a couple of company lists in the food industry as acceptable for use as food-grade corn. Hybrid A is not. However, both hybrids have good quality. It all depends on the market for which you are producing the corn, Cavanaugh concludes.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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