The selection of corn hybrids and soybean and small grain varieties has a major influence on yield and overall profitability of crop production. The disparity in yield between varieties on both ends of the spectrum is quite large. At the University of Wisconsin, corn hybrid research has shown an average yield spread of 70 bushels/acre from the top to bottom performing hybrids. For soybean variety research, the spread between varieties has shown a 25 bushels/acre range. These yield differences are observed as input levels and crop management decisions remain constant. The resulting variance in crop yield is attributed to the variety’s genetic potential and its expression to the seasonal weather conditions.
Begin seed selection by reviewing multi-site replicated university research. Hybrids and varieties tested at multiple locations over more than one year provide a higher probability of performing as expected. These results are unbiased and conducted under consistent protocols such as agronomic management, replication across the landscape and statistical analysis. Other sources of yield information include, on-farm plots, seed company trials and local agronomist recommendations. This data should be viewed as a supplement to multi-site university performance trial data.
Corn Hybrid Performance Trials are conducted each year in Wisconsin to evaluate grain, silage, and organic corn hybrid performance. It is a “Consumer Report” of corn hybrid performance for the state. These trials are established at multiple locations in four growing zones within the state. Yield, grain moisture, and standability (resisting lodging) are measured as performance indicators. Silage measurements include yield, moisture, NDF, Starch content, NDFD, Milk per Ton, and Milk per Acre.
Soybean Variety Performance Trials are conducted each year across multiple locations in four growing zones within Wisconsin. Conventional and herbicide tolerant varieties are measured and evaluated for yield, percent protein and oil content. A full disease rating report is also completed on the variety plots across the state through collaborative work with the Badger Crop Doc team.
Small Grain Performance Trials are conducted at various locations within Wisconsin each year. The performance indicators measured include yield, test weight, plant lodging and crop height. The varieties are rated for disease severity by the Badger Crop Doc team. This disease severity rating gives farmers and agronomists another tool to use in seed selection and crop protection decisions for the upcoming year.
Seed costs are a major component of the cost of production for grain crops. Using good information to make seed selection decisions is one way to help reduce some of the risk in a crop enterprise. The Crop Seed Price Calculator calculates the per acre seed cost for any crop and accounts for differences in itemized costs and crop marketing conditions.
A grower’s pest management program for the upcoming year is centered on the seed selection decision. Anticipating the pest injury risk and selecting appropriate hybrids, varieties, and traits to match is an important part of the crop plan. Decision points include the potential for insect damage, weed pressure, and disease outbreaks. The Handy Bt Trait Table is updated each year with the most current transgenic seed traits available. This resource is helpful for establishing a rotation of pest management modes of action in corn production. Herbicide resistant weed populations affect the seed selection decision. Discuss a weed management plan with a trusted crop advisor before selecting transgenic seed traits. Ask the seed supplier for disease resistance ratings on hybrids and varieties of interest. The disease triangle requires three factors present before disease is identified in a field. These are a host plant, the pathogen, and favorable environmental conditions. The unique weather conditions of each growing season are managed in season with tools like Tarspotter or Sporecaster which predict the timing and presence of disease onset. Refer to the most current version of UW A3646 for additional pest management recommendations.