Corn School: Specific Hybrids Respond to Intensive Management in OCC Trials

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How do specific corn hybrids respond to intensive management practices? Do they deliver higher yields? Are those extra bushels profitable for growers?

Those are some of the questions the Ontario Corn Committee (OCC) is trying to answer with its new intensive management corn trials.

At the SouthWest Agricultural Conference in early January, OCC’s Dr. David Hooker provided a snapshot of the first trial results from 2015 and commented on how growers can use the information in making hybrid choices for their farm. The results are now available at here. Hooker joined Real Agriculture’s Corn School to discuss the results.

Historically, OCC trials have assessed how hybrids yield based on a standard management program – 32,000 plants per acre with a standard provincial nitrogen rate and no fungicide application. For the first time in 2015, intensive management trials were planted featuring higher plant population, a 6,000-plant increase to 38,000; higher nitrogen rates, an additional 50 lbs per acre; and one application of fungicide. 992 plots featuring 62 hybrids were planted at eight locations.

Hooker is excited about the results, but he does stress that more testing is required. “I would fly a bit of a caution flag when we’re looking at this data,” he said adding that OCC needs to ensure the data is repeatable in multiple year trials before growers lean too heavily on the results to make hybrid selections.

Overall, yield response to the first year of intensive management depended heavily on location. More northern trials in Alma and Elora produced an average 29-bushel yield response for all hybrids. Hybrids at Alma specifically yielded an average 34 bushels higher with one hybrid delivering an extra 54 bushels. Hybrids tested at the southern locations, Ridgetown and Exeter, showed much lower yield responses. The cost of additional inputs was estimated at 16 bushels of corn priced at $5.00 per bushel.

Hooker added that additional years of research would help better understand why some of the hybrids responded strongly to fungicide while others lagged. Top-responding hybrids tended to stay green the longest and maximize the grain fill period. Disease control was also important. The high-yielding hybrids consistently exhibited good late-season plant health.

Hooker also notes that the first results indicated that both short-season and full-season hybrids for a particular area responded equally as well to intensive management.

There’s also much interest in the hybrids that didn’t respond well to the intensive management. If there are hybrids in this group that consistently deliver high yields with just standard inputs, these hybrids represent a significant economic yield opportunity for growers, adds Hooker.

“We’re looking forward to repeating this again next year and see if we can repeat and identify some of these high responders and low responders. If they are repeatable from one year to the next then that provides excellent information.”

Hooker is also looking forward to hearing from growers on how they feel the data can be best utilized.

To see more Corn School episodes click here.

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