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How To Choose Corn Hybrids, Soybean Varieties

How To Choose Corn Hybrids, Soybean Varieties

Choosing the right corn hybrids and soybean varieties for your farming operation is perhaps the most important crop production decision you'll make each year.

Corn hybrid selection is a critical component to maximizing yields. Each year new trait options and different stacked products become available, making it more challenging to determine which hybrid is the right hybrid for each of your fields.

To make it easier, Nick Benson, a corn product specialist with Latham Hybrids at Alexander, Iowa, has assembled a list of three key things to keep in mind as you choose hybrids for 2011 planting:

Mix up the maturity in your seed selection. That will allow you to hedge against the effects of mid-summer heat during pollination and to capture genetic gain due to increased maturity.

Look at your seed portfolio the same way you look at your financial portfolio. That is, shoot for balance. For instance, you wouldn't want to place every penny you have in overseas stock accounts. You also don't want to put all of your bets on one particular hybrid only because it's known for high yields or on another hybrid because it's known for root and stalk strength. Planting both defensive and offensive hybrids helps manage your risk and increase your overall yield potential.

It's smart to have a portfolio that is diverse in genetic sourcing.  That is very important, so you can balance performance and help manage risk.

Overall, the best way to manage your risk is by planting more than one hybrid on your farm and by selecting more than one trait package to maximize overall yield.

It's important to note that yield comes from genetics and traits help protect the plant against the presence of stress or pests. Without that pressure, however, non-traited varieties can also perform well. "While traits are extremely important and heavily recommended, we consider it our responsibility to make the best recommendation for your soil and your business," says Benson.

If you have questions about what traits or corn hybrids might be best for your soil and farming operation, contact Benson by email at, or call him at 1-877-GO-LATHAM (1-877-465-2842).

Soybean variety choice also critical to producing high yields

Mark Grundmeier, soybean seed product manager for Latham Seed Company provides the following guidelines and observations to help you make the right soybean variety choice for the fields you farm.

Choosing the right soybean varieties is a critical factor for profitable soybean production. Variety characteristics that can weigh heavily in the decision include: maturity, disease resistance, herbicide resistance, emergence, standability, row spacing and overall plant type. 

Keep good field records from year-to-year. That information will help you determine which characteristics are most crucial when deciding which soybean varieties to plant in a given field in a given year. 

For example, if there were problems experienced with soybean fields in the previous year (such as Sudden Death Syndrome in 2010), remember those fields will most likely be planted to corn this coming year. There should not be too much emphasis placed on problems from the previous year; it's more important to check your field records to see what pressures that particular field faced when it was last planted to soybeans.

It's always wise to spread risk. You do that by planting soybeans with different maturities. To maximize yield potential, choose varieties with a five- to seven-day spread in maturity. Shorter season soybean varieties are at less risk to late-season diseases but the short season beans limit the yield potential. Make sure the fuller-season varieties you select have good disease packages.   

Plant soybeans that have good resistance to diseases. Planting varieties with disease resistance can be the most effective and the most economical method of disease control. "Our soybean brands have good resistance or tolerance to the major diseases that occur in our trade territory," says Grundmeier. "That includes: Soybean Cyst Nematode, Sudden Death Syndrome, Brown Stem Rot, Iron Deficiency Chlorosis, White Mold and Phytophthora. Our 2011 Seed Guide provides a rating provided for each of these on pages 46-47."

Make sure herbicide program matches the correct fields. If you're planting soybeans with different herbicide traits (such as Roundup-resistant versus LibertyLinkbeans), careful records must also be kept to ensure the herbicide program matches the correct fields. 

If you're using a glyphosate-resistant program (such as Roundup) in both corn and soybeans, it's best to use herbicides with alternative modes of action in a pre-plant or pre-emergent program. This will help prevent selecting weed populations that grow resistant to glyphosate.

Don't be afraid to try new soybean varieties. Also, don't be afraid to try new traits and even new management practices. Experimenting in your own fields is the only sure way to see if new ideas will work best for you. If you have questions about what bean varieties might be best for your fields, contact Grundmeier by email, or call 1-877-GO-LATHAM (1-877-465-2842).

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