Switching Hybrids On The Fly Could Boost Corn Yields

Using equipment already available, Beck’s researchers are matching corn hybrids and populations to management zones, netting nearly 20 bushels an acre more in yields.

RESEARCHERS AT Beck’s Hybrids are turning precision farming methods up a notch.

Instead of only adjusting fertility and population on the go using precision-farming methods, researchers at Beck’s Practical Farming Research (PFR) farm in central Illinois are switching hybrids on the fly to better match changing soil conditions.

First-year research indicates potential for a 20-bushel increase in corn yields and $100 boost in net return per acre with the practice, says Jason Webster, director of the PFR farm.

“Hybrid placement is very important and we’ve always worked with farmers to pick the right hybrids overall for their farms,” Webster says. “We’ve found a way to more closely match the hybrid being planted to the soil properties. We can show them how to do it.”

Offense Vs. Defense

 Like a football coach strategizing for a game, Beck researchers are looking at “players” (hybrids) that are best matched to the specific soil characteristics in the field.

They’re selecting an offensive hybrid that aims for top yields in field areas with high yield potential, and a defensive hybrid with good emergence characteristics for lighter soils with less water-holding capacity and lower fertility.

“It’s really a racehorse vs. a workhorse strategy,” Webster says. “Our research this year shows that if you combine variable hybrid selection with a variable seeding rate, you could achieve as much as $100 greater net income per acre.”

The researchers obtained their results from two Ford County fields in central Illinois in 2012.

Both fields had highly productive Ashkum silty…

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