Corn growing

As one corn harvest season comes to a close, plans are already underway for the next growing season. Many critical agronomic conversations happen around the kitchen table in the fall.

When it comes to selecting corn hybrids, the options for 2016 almost seem endless. "There is a tremendous technology drive in corn," said Joe Lauer, corn agronomist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Having options is good, but it can make decisions even more difficult. Lauer shared tips for corn hybrid selection with dairy producers and consultants attending the recent GPS Dairy Forum.

First, he reminded the audience what makes a good forage: high yield, high energy and digestibility, high intake potential with low fiber, high protein and proper moisture at harvest for storage.

"The ultimate test of forage quality is animal performance," he explained.

When it comes to selecting the hybrids that will produce the best feed for your herd, Lauer offered the following recommendations:
  • Select hybrids with multi-location average data from independent yield trials.
  • Evaluate consistency of performance over years and between trials. He encouraged producers to be weary of hybrids that do not perform near the top in all trials in which they are tested
  • Pay attention to seed costs. Lauer cautioned that it is hard to make up for a really expensive price tag with yield increases alone.
  • Every hybrid must stand on its own performance. Lauer explained that since we can't predict the weather, we should select hybrids that have been proven to perform in a variety of weather conditions.
  • Buy the traits you need. "This can be tough," he said, referring to the wide variety of trait stack options available. "But traits do not add to yield," he said. "Traits protect yield."
In the end, Lauer noted that the hybrids you pick will dictate how you manage your fields next season. These decisions also impact what your herd eats for the next year, so corn hybrid selection is definitely a kitchen table discussion worth spending some time on.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2015
December 7, 2015
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