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New genes pay off

Buying each year's new seed genetics could boost your yield 5 percent.

Buying only new seed hybrids and varieties each year could increase youryields 5 percent, according to Dan Borklund, agronomist for Stine Seed Company.Borklund reported this startling fact after combing through Iowa StateUniversity (ISU) field trial results from the past few years. He reportedhis findings during Challenge Days, held recently in Hollandale, MN.

Borklund compared last year's top 12 new soybean varieties with the 15 mostpopular varieties in Iowa, all tested by ISU. The average yield on thepopular varieties was 60.8 bu./acre, whereas the average yield on the newvarieties was 64.4 bu./acre, nearly a 5 percent difference.

Tried-and-true versus new. "Now, this is not a guarantee," Borklund says."But this is solid data that's been replicated and statistically analyzed.You can (compare yields), too, by picking the products you know have beenaround and then comparing them with the very newest."

Plant genetics have improved, Borklund explains. Even a variety that isfour years old probably has been improved. "When farmers find a varietythey like, you can bet plant breeders use it as a parent for a newgeneration," he says. "If you make enough crosses of that original, therewill be offspring that are higher yielding than the original."

If you aren't using new genetics, Borklund suggests splitting a couplefields and planting new and older genetics to see if there is a difference."The odds are (new genetics) will increase your yields," he says.

Matching soil. Borklund also stresses that seed must be matched to soiltype or you may lose up to 10 percent yield. He looked through ISU field trialsand found the five top-producing root-rot-resistant varieties and comparedthose to five top varieties without the resistance.The resistant varieties yielded an average 56.2 bu./acre compared with topvarieties that yielded 61.7 bu./acre. If a producer plants a resistantvariety in a field not needing it, he leaves 5_1/2 bu./acre in the field.

"I would look at an 80-acre field and say how much of it has a pH of 7.8 orhigher," Borklund explains. "If you have 5 acres (at that pH level) and youplant the resistant product, you are 5 bu. below on the other 75 acres. Didyou gain? It is the same thing with disease. You really need to look atthis type of situation. You can end up gaining 5 to 10 bu./acre."

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