Considerations When Selecting Seed Products

University research suggests that corn seed products can vary by as much as 50 bu/acre and soybean products may vary up to 20 bu/acre when grown in the same field.1,2 Selecting the best adapted seed product for each acre is a major step toward maximizing yield potential. A product’s ultimate performance is influenced by the field characteristics (soil type, fertility, drainage) and the environment (weather, insects, diseases).

Yield Potential

Generally, the first selection criteria when evaluating corn products is yield potential, followed by various agronomic characteristics. Yield performance data from multiple locations (and several years if possible) is the most accurate predictor of future performance. Growing conditions for next year are unpredictable, so it is very important to use a large selection of plots from different growing conditions to ensure all possibilities are included.

Plot yields of DEKALB® and Asgrow® seed products are available on agAnytime at https://www.aganytime.com/. Select the Local Yield Results tab and then enter your zip code. Once zip code is selected, other criteria can be chosen such as soil type, tillage system, crop years (2016, 2017, 2018), miles from your location, etc. to fine-tune your search for plot yield information. Another feature after selecting Local Yield Results is the Third Party Plot Reports tab, which provides links to independent and numerous university performance trials.

Agronomic Traits Consideration.

Commercial products often have very good or excellent vigor and emergence ratings. A strong emergence and vigor rating is especially beneficial if that product will be placed in a no-till or reduced tillage field, or will be planted early.

It is important to evaluate products for tolerance to diseases that are common in your geography. Fungicide applications may lessen some of the impact associated with a product’s susceptibility to some foliar fungal diseases, although that yield protection comes at a higher cost and risk than product resistance or tolerance.

Corn seed products with DEKALB® Disease Shield™, a seed breeding effort to mitigate the effect of diseases on yield potential, will be available again for the 2019 growing season. These products contain genetics with strong disease tolerance to five of the most common corn diseases: anthracnose stalk rot, Goss’s wilt, gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight, and southern rust. Consider discussing with your seed representative how DEKALB® Disease Shield™ seed products can reduce corn disease risk in your operation.

If sudden death syndrome, white mold, brown stem rot or other soybean diseases are a concern, consider selecting products that provide tolerance to these diseases.

Different Relative Maturities

A good management practice is to plant a combination of early-, mid-, and full-season relative maturities (RM) to help spread out the harvest schedule and help minimize losses from drying costs and lodging. The early products can help with getting harvest equipment set properly and/or fulfilling early fall delivery commitments to elevators. Often, the majority of acres in an operation should be planted to mid- and full-season products due to the tendency for them to have higher yield potential since they have more days to photosynthesize and fill grain. In addition to helping manage harvest schedules, having a spread of RMs can help reduce risks associated with an early fall frost, such as low test weight, lower yield potential, and poor drydown.

Growing Degree Unit Requirements

An often overlooked characteristic when selecting a package of corn products is growing degree unit (GDU) requirements to flowering or mid-pollination. Spreading out GDU requirements to mid-pollination can help decrease risks of heat and drought stress during pollination. Keep in mind that a package of products with different RMs may or may not result in a package with differing GDU requirements to flowering.

Corn-on-Corn Acres

Selecting corn products that can handle the additional stress associated with corn-on-corn environments can be challenging. Regardless of the environment, the first selection criteria should be yield potential. Corn-on-corn systems may have the additional challenge of cooler and wetter soils due to heavy residue. Choosing a product with strong early emergence is important. Planting products with multiple mode of action insect protection traits, such as products with SmartStax® technology, can help minimize the risk of insect damage from northern corn rootworm, western corn rootworm, corn earworm, and European corn borer. Diseases caused by fungal pathogens that survive in crop residue are potentially more severe in corn-on-corn. Selecting corn products with high levels of resistance to diseases is a good management strategy for corn-on-corn acres.