Farm shows and magazines are filled with technology. New seed treatments and other sorts of additives for corn are coming up all the time. There's a new nitrification inhibitor for liquid N introduced just a year ago. And companies continue to improve corn planters, and sideline manufacturers continue to churn out all sorts of devices that you can hand in front of or behind the planter to supposedly get a better stand in varying conditions.
No doubt each one has its place. And beyond all this, many have argued for years that the place you make money is n marketing. Anyone can raise crop, they say, and yields have evened out, so spend your time on doing a better job of marketing it. There's no money to be made in figuring out how to grow it more efficient- or so they say.
Whether all this is hogwash depends upon your point of view. Each piece of new technology has its' place if viewed as a tool. And market advisory services can certainly help you get a better hold on what markets are doing and how they work. However, at least one specialist believes there is still a great opportunity to make money on the input side of growing corn.
"Hybrid selection is extremely important," says Bob Nielsen, a Purdue University Extension agronomist and corn specialist. "There is a lot of money to be made in picking the right hybrids for your farm."
To prove the point, Nielsen studied results of Purdue variety trials conducted in Indiana this past year at various locations. Companies pay to enter the trials. The value of the trial is thought to be in independent testing by trained specialists who have no commercial interest at heart. Nielsen does not conduct the trials, but does use the data.
What amazed him was the difference from the top to bottom hybrid at nearly every location. In at least one instance the difference was some 90 bushels per acre. In other plots it was less, but it was always a significant number.
"Since companies paid to put these hybrid sin trials, we must assume the companies figure they are good hybrids," he reasons. In other words, it's not a test of dogs.- Companies would weed those out instead of paying to enter them, and risk having them show up bad in trials.
At $3.50 per bushel for corn, choosing the best hybrid over the bottom hybrid in the most-widely varying plot he studied amounts to a difference in gross income of more than $300 per acre. While that may be extreme, Nielsen believes it illustrates the point that hybrid selection is important.
"It's one of the most important decisions you must make every year as a corn farmer," he says.