Now that the planting season is upon us, do you feel that you made the best variety selection for greatest profitability? Agronomists and growers have known for years that selecting the right varieties can mean as much as a 10- to 20-bushel yield gain. University expects and ag media extol the virtues of selecting the right varieties and as a farmer myself, I know that.
But, it is especially challenging to follow this advice when you get your information from a seed company that is extolling the performance of its own varieties. Here are five tips for getting it right:
1. Yield is still king, no doubt. But varieties don’t perform the same every year and in every field. Selecting the best high-yielding varieties with demonstrated yield in your area is a challenge if you don’t look outside your own seed network and look at independent variety yield trials. Growers do the best they can and rely on the expertise and honesty of their seed dealers. Personally, I think agronomy is more important and can make any variety perform at the top.
2. Placement. Match variety and soil landscape. I always find this the most challenging task and you really have to rely on the seed guidance and expertise of your dealer for variety placement. Some of that placement has to do with soil and landscape position (heavy vs. light soils, upland vs. bottom soils, etc.) The other aspect is the defensive package.
3. Select a range of maturities. Don’t plant all the same maturity groups. Plant a range to hedge against stress and spread out harvest timing so you can get most fields harvested between 12 and 14% moisture.
4. Note defensive packages. You know your fields history and disease and pest issues, above and below ground. Pick varieties with defensive packages that match a field’s limitations, such as SCN, SDS, BSR, root rots, etc.
5. Match variety to management intent. Soybean varieties, like corn hybrids, come in racehorse or defensive packages. Based on the soil and your management style, select varieties that are adapted to your style including factors like irrigation, no-till or high-yield strategies.
Choosing the right varieties to place in your fields is as important today as ever, so it pays to get it right. With low commodity prices, a 5- to 10-bushel yield jump can pay back $50 to $100 an acre with no additional investment. Maybe this will be your best ROI this season.
Agronomist Dr. Daniel Davidson posts blogs on agronomy-related topics. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.