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Not All Corn Hybrids Sitting on the Shelf

Some of hottest new hybrids still under production in Hawaii.

Most seed corn companies have corn in their warehouse this time of year. February is the time they try to move that remaining inventory to farmer's toolsheds. But plant breeders and those in the business report that some of the newest, hottest new hybrids that could be planted this spring aren't sitting in warehouses. They're not in bags anywhere. In fact, some of those hybrids aren't even in the U.S. yet.

Instead, they're in winter nurseries in a warmer part of the world. Producing hybrids that look very good and for which there is lots of interest is often done in South America during our winter and their summer, or at least somewhere else, or at least where they can complete a second crop before planting time in the U.S.

The advantage, says Dave Nanda, president of bird Hybrids LLP and consultant for the Farm Progress Corn Illustrated project, is that going to South America allows companies to get commercial volumes of the hottest-latest genetics in time for planting in '08, without waiting until '09.

There are two possible drawbacks to producing corn in South America. First, it's a very expensive proposition, notes Dave Nanda, plant breeder with Bird hybrids LLC., Tiffin, Ohio. Producing hybrids through contract growers in South America or other areas south of the U.S. during their summer (our winter) is much more expensive than raising the same corn here.

Secondly, the corn may not arrive back in the states in time for timely planting. If the corn can be delivered in a timely fashion, say in early April, there will likely be little if any delay in getting seed to the customers on or before he needs it. But if it arrives late, say early May to mid-May, it may arrive later than some farmers want to wait to plant corn. It's possible that due to various processing delays, sometimes corn grown for this year's cropping season may not arrive until early may. That puts the grower in a box- is the hybrid worth waiting for? Or should he go with hybrids he knows and gamble that getting plants planted on time will offset any extra bushels the supposedly better hybrid might produce.

Part of the problem is that yields begin slipping by May 10 in central Indiana, give or take a little bit in northern of southern Indiana. By mid-May, delays often increase to 1.5 bushels per acre for each extra day planning is delayed.

So talk to your seedsman,. Learn about those hybrids he says the company is bringing back from South America? Just how good is it? Is it good enough to let the planter sit and wait for?

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