For farmers, finding the right corn hybrid can be like finding a needle in a haystack, but a Purdue University Web site strives to help them find that needle.
"Maize Match is a relatively simple program that allows you to compare two hybrids from the Purdue corn performance database," said Phil DeVillez, a Purdue Extension agronomist. "This is a tool that farmers can use to help them make hybrid selection."
Maize Match is located online at http://www.agry.purdue.edu/pcpp/MaizeMatch.asp.
DeVillez said the information in Maize Match is different than what farmers get from seed companies.
"Every company in Indiana sends the farmer some kind of information, but all of our information is based on independent, non-biased research," he said.
Maize Match contains more than 250 different hybrids and five years of data. That gives growers a chance to compare the performances of those hybrids against each other. Information about weather, soil type and chemical application also is available at the site.
DeVillez said, "This gives the farmer a chance to say, 'Is there really a difference between the two hybrids they're telling me about?'"
One factor included in Maize Match that's often missing from other hybrid comparisons is the least significant difference (LSD). This can help users determine whether the differences in yield, moisture, lodging and stand for two hybrids are statistically significant.
"We have an LSD of 10 percent, which means if the yield difference between the two hybrids is larger than the LSD, then 90 percent of the time the differences are going to be based on genetics and not random error," DeVillez said.
If, for example, a farmer compares hybrid A and hybrid B, which has the LSD listed for yield as 16 bu., and hybrid A yields 17 or more bu. more than hybrid B, the farmer can be 90 percent sure that the difference is from genetic performance and not random error.
Data from the 2005 corn performance trials is already entered into Maize Match, DeVillez said.
"I know there are a lot of different seed companies, and not all of them are in our trials," he said. "My request to the farmer would be that if you don't see your favorite hybrid in the corn trial, then contact your seed rep and ask them to put it in."
Participation in Purdue's corn performance trials is on a voluntary basis. DeVillez also is seeking a couple of new testing sites near Tipton, IN, and Evansville, IN. "The way it works is that the farmer prepares the land just like their normal program," he said. "Then, we come in and plant, take care of cultivating and any additional spraying that might be needed. At harvest time, we come in and take our notes and harvest the crop, and the farmer gets all the grain. A lot of our cooperators really like it because it's a test right there on their farm."
Information about being a host for a corn performance trial or getting a hybrid added to the test is available by contacting DeVillez at (765) 494-0406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.