Corn School: Making profitable hybrid selections


Selecting the right hybrids can make or break the profitability of a corn crop.

There are a multitude of factors that combine to produce high-yielding, profitable harvests, but if growers make the wrong hybrid choices they’ll need some luck and good fortune to produce a successful crop, says University of Guelph associate professor Dr. David Hooker.

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Corn School we head to the classroom with Hooker as he shares some hybrid selection insights from a recent lecture he prepared for his Ridgetown College students.

The starting point is analysis of 2019 Ontario corn performance trials. Looking at 12 testing sites, Hooker illustrates the financial impact of choosing either the highest-performing or lowest-performing hybrid in the trials where the top hybrid produced 43 to 69 more bushels than the poorest hybrid. Based a 100-acre corn crop at $5 per bushel, that adds up to an additional $21,000 t0 $34,000 of revenue for the leading hybrid.

Hooker admits hybrid selection isn’t as simple as looking at a list of hybrids and planting the top ones on your farm. There are many factors to consider and risk mitigation needs to play a big role in a grower’s hybrid choices. (Story continues after the video.)

Planting early is a strategy Hooker says growers should take advantage of if their growing area and soil conditions allow. He recommends building in some risk management by planting 25 per cent late-season hybrids, 50 per cent full-season adapted hybrids and 25 per cent early-maturing hybrids.

Hooker also highly recommends growers select hybrids that produce consistent yields across a wide range of locations and soil and environmental conditions. He describes these hybrids as having a low level of genetics times environment interaction.

Once growers have reduced their potential choices to 10 hybrids, Hooker says they then need to put the hybrids through a final test by assessing how they perform based on specific traits that are important for a specific farm. Issues such as standability, dry down, disease resistance, and drought tolerance may need to be managed on these acres and the hybrids selected will need to provide evidence of success in those conditions.

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