By Darren Hefty

I really enjoy learning about seed varieties and hybrids. Every year I will discover a new variety that seemingly works in every situation and soil. Most varieties, though, have certain places they perform very well and others where they just don’t thrive. With all the new varieties you are surely being approached with to plant on your farm this upcoming season, how can you make the best decisions?

Here are the top three things to AVOID in variety/hybrid selection:

  1. Planting your whole farm to the best number you saw last year.
    • It’s simply taking too much risk for your farm. How often does the plot winner last year win again? Unfortunately it’s not too often. The maturity may not match this season just right. The disease package may miss this year’s problem de jour, etc.
  2. Assuming a variety/hybrid is bad everywhere because you noticed poor performance in one particular area of one field on one year.
    • I think you can see where I’m going here. If the seed product worked for others but didn’t work for you, pay attention to where and why it did work. Chances are it could be placed on a different part of your farm and work very well.
  3. Switching away from a trait package that has worked for your farm without making a sufficient alternative plan.
    • A great example is with corn Bt traits: if you drop the corn rootworm trait, how are you going to apply a planting time insecticide? If you don’t use above ground insect protection Bt’s, do you have aerial application priced and available or some other means of applying a rescue bug treatment. Also, how often will you be scouting fields if you have no protection in the hybrid?

Here are the top 5 reasons to choose a variety/hybrid:

  1. It yields very well in your area.
  2. It fits the specific defensive needs of the field you’re planting it in.
  3. It contains the best trait package for your farm and crop rotation.
  4. The seed treatment package available with this variety/hybrid offers you an advantage you can’t get elsewhere.
  5. You find a variety/hybrid you just can’t mess up (meaning it works absolutely everywhere no matter what). There are a few out there like this but not very many at all.