It comes back to looking at data from several locations. Keep your eye on the most important element: consistent performance across a variety of sites and conditions.

“We can’t predict next year’s growing environment,” notes crop production specialist Emerson Nafziger at the University of Illinois. “But having data from more than one location, even if locations are many miles apart, does a better job of predicting future hybrid performance than a single location.”

The good news is there are plenty of great options.

“There aren’t really many bad hybrids out there, but some may not do well in certain conditions,” Nafziger says.

It certainly pays to know where they do and don’t.