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MADISON - Providing farmers with unbiased performance comparisons of hybrid seed corn for both grain and silage available in Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Extension and the University of Wisconsin-Madison  College of Agriculture and Life Sciences recently released the 2017 hybrid performance trials. 

Grain and silage performance trials were planted at 14 locations in four production zones. Both seed companies and university researchers submitted hybrids, according to http://corn.agronomy.wisc.edu

"I call it the consumer reports of crops," said Joe Lauer, University of Wisconsin agronomist. "It gives growers a sense of how one variety or hybrid will perform against another and, in the case of corn, we will see a difference of 70 bushels between that top and bottom hybrid. It’s a big decision and many times the growers don’t do their own testing."

Lauer gives growers five things to take into account when selecting hybrids. 

  1. Use multi-location averages to get a feel for how they perform.
  2. Look at consistency of performance.
  3. Pay attention to seed costs. "These hybrids are very expensive technologies and you really need to evaluate how they fit in terms of your return on investment," Lauer said.
  4. Every hybrid has to stand on its own. Just because it’s transgenic, or smart stack doesn’t mean it’s going to be a high performing hybrid, Lauer points out. "We see those hybrids in the bottom part of the trial as well as the top part of the trial." 
  5. Buy the traits you need. "Not everyone needs a hybrid with a corn rootworm trait," said Lauer. "In northern Wisconsin we don’t have a lot of corn rootworm pressure up there, so why buy the trait?"

The hybrids growers pick are going to dictate their management style, Lauer added. 

"You pick a conventional hybrid, that automatically leaves out Roundup. Your herbicide options become a little more selective, whereas if you have a Roundup ready hybrid you already have all the herbicides plus you have Roundup as an herbicide option," said Lauer. "The way you pick your hybrid is going to dictate the style of management you use."

The management style goes beyond herbicides, Lauer pointed out, extending to tillage and plant population.

"Transgenic traits influence the kind of plant populations you can plant as well as the kind of tillage you can use, so it’s not just the herbicide trait itself, but it also spills over into some of the other management options you’ve got," added Lauer. 

Additionally, below are suggested steps listed on the website to follow for selecting top performing hybrids for next year using these trial results.

It is a "tremendous gamble" if hybrid selection decisions are based on 2017 yield comparisons in only one or two local test plots, according to the report.

  1. Use multi‐location average data in shaded areas. Consider single location results with extreme caution.
  2. Begin with trials in the zones nearest you.
  3. Compare hybrids with similar maturities within a trial. You will need to divide most trials into at least two and sometimes three groups with similar average harvest moisture—within about a 2 percent range in moisture. 
  4. Make a list of five to 10 hybrids with highest 2016 performance index within each maturity group within a trial.
  5. Evaluate the consistency of the performance of the hybrids on your list over the years and in other zones.  a.) Scan the 2017 results. Be wary of any hybrids on your list that had a 2017 PI of 100 or lower. Choose two or three of the remaining hybrids that have relatively high PIs for both 2017 and 2016. b.). Check to see if the hybrids you have chosen were entered in other zones. For example, some hybrids entered in the Southern Zone Trials, Tables 7 and 8, are also entered in the South Central Zone Trials, Tables 9 and 10. c. Be wary of any hybrids with a PI of 100 or lower for 2017 or 2016 in any other zones.
  6. Repeat this procedure with about three maturity groups to select top‐performing hybrids with a range in maturity in order to spread weather risks and harvest time.
  7. Observe the relative performance of the hybrids you have chosen based on these trial results in several other reliable, unbiased trials and be wary of any with inconsistent performance.
  8. Consider including the hybrids you have chosen in your own test plot, primarily to evaluate the way hybrids stand after maturity, dry‐down rate, grain quality, or ease of combine shelling or picking.
  9. Remember that you don’t know what weather conditions rainfall, temperature will be like next year. Therefore, the most reliable way to choose hybrids with greatest chance to perform best next year on your farm is to consider performance in both 2017 and 2016 over a wide range of locations and climatic conditions.

Trial results can be found at the following websites:

Corn: https://tinyurl.com/ycrwsqy9

Soybeans: https://tinyurl.com/y7qoylxo

Oats, barley: https://tinyurl.com/yb23sot6

Winter wheat: https://tinyurl.com/yaoeh8ak

Forage: https://tinyurl.com/y8xkoxzy

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