The farmer who planted the Crop Watch '14 field on May 4 planted two hybrids in the field, the old-fashioned way. He certainly doesn't have a planter that can switch hybrids on the go in a single pass. But he can put one hybrid in half the boxes and another hybrid in the other half. That gives him slight differences if flowering among two varieties that should spread pollen shed and take away some of the risk.
He combines maps of soil types and his own knowledge of fields to make his own maps of variable seeding rates for corn. He prepares the maps himself, and goes up to 36,000 on the better soils.
He can watch the rates change on his computer monitor in the cab, and gets a record of what was planted where at what rate once he is finished planting.
When he varies the rate of one hybrid, he varies the rate of the other hybrid too.
"I wish I could have control to vary the rate of both independently," he says. "That would let me take advantage of differences in the hybrids. But the way we are set up, if I vary the rate, it changes the rate on both hybrids at the same time."
Equipment is coming that may change that. A multi-hybrid planter under testing now by Kinze and Beck's Hybrids, Atlanta, Ind., allows the operator to change rates of both hybrids. That's because all rows are either panting one hybrid or the other. When the prescription map the farmer, consultant or dealer prepares calls for a switch in hybrids, the planter makes the transition. If it's also calling for a change in seeding rate, it can do that as well.
Look for several new planter developments and new planter technology in the near future.
Note: Follow Corn Illustrated articles to help you make a better guess on final yield of this field later in the season. You will be eligible to win free seed from Seed Consultants, Inc.