This time of year growers are under a lot of pressure to buy seed. Seed salesmen pursue seed commitments through volume pricing and early purchase incentives often before the current year's yield trial results are available.
Growers often respond by putting a "hold" on seed orders, but not committing to specific hybrids until yield results are published. This time of year is difficult because seed salesman must balance supply with demand.
Do not be "sold" hybrids through commercial advertising (radio, TV, magazines, and newspapers), sales literature, sales pitches from seed dealers, testimonials, or simply because it is "cheap" or "new" or "transgenic" or "available" or "different."
Choose hybrids wisely by using comparative yield performance data. Remember the basic principles of hybrid selection:
1. Use multi-location averages to compare hybrids
2. Evaluate consistency of performance
3. Buy the traits you need
4. Every hybrid must stand on it own
5. Pay attention to seed costs
Use Multi-Location Averages To Compare Hybrids
Use multi-location information to evaluate grain yield, grain moisture, and standability. Today, most universities compile hybrid yield data over multiple locations. They do this by testing the same set of hybrids at numerous locations.
Begin with trials that are nearest to you. Compare hybrids with similar maturities (harvest grain moisture) usually within about a 2% range in grain moisture. To ensure genetic diversity on your farm, divide the trials into two or three groups based upon grain moisture.
Consider single location results (even if the trial was conducted on your farm) with extreme caution. Use single location information (your own on-farm trial) to evaluate test weight, dry-down rate, grain quality and ease of combine-shelling or picking.
The way you approach the hybrid selection decision, e.g. single-location versus multiple-locations, makes all of the difference in subsequent profitability. For more information regarding selection strategies and predicted yield increase (see http://corn.agronomy.wisc.edu/AA/A012.aspx).
There are many possible sources of comparative yield performance data including strip-trials (seed company and independent) and replicated-trials (F.I.R.S.T. and university). Each source of data has it's own strengths and weaknesses.
What Criteria Should You Select For?
In Wisconsin, for example, the two major uses of corn are grain and silage. There has been enough breeding progress, especially in corn silage, that the criteria for grain versus silage are different.
The most important consideration regardless of use is yield. For grain, moisture at harvest can often mean the difference between profit and loss in the northern Corn Belt. For corn silage hybrids, large differences exist for quality parameters such as starch content and NDFD.