Corn School: Stress testing hybrids to see where they fit

High residue, continuous corn, lack of nitrogen, drought — they’re all growing conditions that can make life stressful for corn plants.

On this episode of the RealAgriculture Corn School, PRIDE Seeds agronomist Matt Chapple shares how seed companies stress test hybrids to ensure only the best, most resilient hybrids make it to market. He also discusses how hybrid performance can vary in different environments and why it’s critical to properly position a hybrid on a farm to optimize yield.

Overall, Chapple says it’s important to look for hybrids that are efficient, withstand the test of time and best manage stressful environments. It’s important to identify hybrids that can prosper on marginal ground and also pinpoint hybrids that can be aggressively managed and pushed to perform. There are also hybrids that combine both these traits and can prosper under a range of populations and management styles.

Chapple shows how different traits can help or hinder hybrids in varying environments. For example, he notes that “nitrogen-loving” hybrids tend to make yield late in the season. When these hybrids are planted in high populations and lack nitrogen, they struggle. These hybrids will do well, however, at lower populations with adequate nitrogen.

Chapple says during testing it’s important to define a hybrid. That includes when to alleviate stress as well as identifying the growing conditions where it will flourish and deliver maximum yield. Does a hybrid show good early-season vigour and the ability to tough it out when planted early in challenging conditions? he asks. Or, does it do its best work when planted later in a more forgiving environment?

When it comes to positioning hybrids for success, Chapple notes that “no two fields have the same drainage, the same water-holding capacity or the same nutrient availability.” In the video, he shares why it’s important for growers and their seed representatives to understand the stresses associated with individual farms and to select the best hybrid to deal with challenges and opportunities in those environments.

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