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Corn variety trials provide guidance on seed selection

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Column by Extension Agent Matt Adams

As harvest concludes, many Hardin County farmers already have begun planning for 2014.  A major item on the planning list is variety selection for the 2014 corn crop. Variety can be one of the most crucial factors in determining yield and careful thought should be put in to determining what seed to plant on what acre.

The largest local corn variety trial in the state is the University of Kentucky’s. This year, varieties from 15 companies who market seed corn in the state, are compared at five different test sites.

One of the test sites this year was in LaRue County and should be looked at closely by local producers. The test includes hybrids in the early, medium and late maturities as well as a white corn test. Yields were excellent. The average yield was 181.8 bushels and acres for the early test, 186.8 for the medium test, 203.5 for the late test and 156.3 for the white test.

Hybrids that performed well in all locations have the best chance of performing well next year. If you are determined to evaluate a single location, then identify hybrids that did well at both a single location and in the state summary. Producers also should take their research a step further and find varieties that did well in the UK test as well as company plots.

Another local data set that should be looked at closely is the Hardin County corn variety trial, which will be published in the coming weeks. 

When looking through the data, producers also should note previous year’s results.  Most trial reports will list two and three-year averages, if those varieties have been entered before. Varieties that yielded well in 2012 and 2013, relative to the rest of the trial, especially should be noted as those varieties are more likely to perform well under a wide range of environmental conditions. 

Industry data with agronomic traits can be especially useful in determining what varieties to plant in what situations.  Varieties with good stress and drought tolerance should be chosen for fields with shallow or less productive soils. Disease ratings also should be looked at, especially if you are in a situation where fungicide applications are not desired or are planting continuous corn.

Results from the 2013 University of Kentucky Corn variety trial are available online or, of course, a hard copy can be picked up at the Hardin County Cooperative Extension Service. For more information on variety selection, contact the Hardin County Extension Service at 270-765-4121.

Matt Adams is a Hardin County Extension Service agent for agriculture and natural resources.