Farm Horizons, December 2016

Selecting seed for 2017 growing season

By Dave Schwartz
Certified crop advisor, Gold Country Seed

Seed is one of the major expenses in a crop budget, so growers need to do their homework when selecting genetics for their farming operation.

There are hundreds of products to choose from, so here are a few suggestions to consider.

• An agronomist at the University of Minnesota once told me, “Farmers base their decisions too much on what happened last year,” rather than the past five or 10 years, and I think he is right.

I find myself doing this when it comes to making corn and soybean recommendations. If we use this growing season as an example, our growing season was much longer and wetter than normal. We will set a record for the longest growing season, and in parts of the state, the wettest year, as well.

So, naturally, full-season varieties and more offensive lines topped most plots. Be careful about loading up too much on very full-season lines for 2017. Normally, full-season lines will yield best, but be sure to have a mix and not stack the deck with all full-season products.

• For fields that are in continuous corn, select hybrids that have good roots and stalks, and have a good disease package – especially for Goss’s Wilt. Continuous corn fields simply have more stress than fields in a two- or three-crop rotation, so a healthy root and stalk are important traits to select. In warm dry summers, continuous corn fields can yield as much as 30 percent less than rotated corn.

• For soybean growers in a corn/soybean rotation, select soybean lines that have a good disease package. Oftentimes, one of these diseases – phytophthora root rot, brown stem rot, white mold, and occasionally sudden death – infect plants and reduce yield. White mold is especially common in fields that have a livestock manure history. Lowering plant populations to 140,000 seeds or less will also help manage white mold.

• Work with your seed dealer to select products that are a good fit for each field. Some products have better drought-tolerance. Others are more offensive, and should be placed in your most productive soils. Fields coming out of alfalfa should not need rootworm protection.

These are all things best discussed with your seed dealer, to find a package of products that best fit your operation.

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