Dave Nanda has worked with corn as 50 years. He has developed hybrids that have become commercial hybrids, so he knows a thing or two about the crop.
It didn't take him long to figure out where one hybrid ended and another began while walking through the Crop Watch '14 field recently. There are two hybrids in the field.
He looks at such things as plant height and shape and size of the tassel, he says. In this case, Nanda, consultant for Seed Consultants, Inc. found that the clincher was the type of ear each hybrid was forming.
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There was also a difference in the amount of gray leaf spot on one hybrid vs. the other hybrid. Neither had enough to likely affect yield at this point, with ears at the milk stage and lesions not yet up to the ear leaf, but one had more lesions per leaf than the other hybrid.
One hybrid consistently had 16 rows of plump kernels with about 40 kernels per row. The kernel rows were straight and uniform. Ears form the other hybrid tended to have 14 kernels per row.
Sometimes there was a twist in rows from top to bottom of the ear. Nanda says that's not a big deal, and likely had to do with how silks emerged and were fertilized. These ears had slightly more kernels per row than the other hybrid.
Which hybrid will make more? It will likely come down to which has the deeper, fuller kernels and better test weight, Nanda says.
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At this point, the kernel count per ear, assuming these ears are representative of each hybrid, stacks up this way: For the 16-row hybrid, 16 times 40 = 640 kernels per ear. For the hybrid with 14 kernels per row, 14 times 45 kernels per row = 630 kernels per row.
A politician would say that race is "too close to call." Stay tuned.