Ted Klug and his son, Ted Jr., also used a new method to pick top corn hybrids last year.

Using data he gathered from several seed companies, the elder Klug compiled information on 36 hybrids that had been yield-tested within a 40-mile radius of his farm. Then he narrowed that list to seven by eliminating hybrids that didn't consistently yield well in replicated trials. Finally, he contacted seed dealers and asked if the seven hybrids were susceptible to any agronomic problems.

"I got some candid answers from my farmer-dealers," says Klug, who took three hybrids off the list due to problems with green snap, stalk rot or gray leaf spot.

Klug harvested impressive corn yields last fall. One farm, which yielded 145 bu/acre in 1997, did much better last year.

"That field got hailed on, but still yielded 190 bu/acre," he says.

Two other fields, which both averaged 150 bu in '97, yielded 189 and 200 bu in '98.

"Of course, Mother Nature played a part in how well our corn yielded, but I attribute some of the gains to my new method of hybrid selection. Previously, we had problems with some hybrids every year."

Prior to 1998, the Klugs just followed their agronomist's advice on which hybrids to plant.

"I'm currently collecting new data base information for '99," says Klug. "I won't automatically plant the hybrids that did so well in 1998. I'll pay close attention to what's new."