Hybrid selection is one of the most important management decisions a corn grower makes each year. It’s a decision that warrants a careful comparison of performance data. It should not be made in haste or based on limited data. Planting a marginal hybrid, or one not suitable for a particular production environment, imposes a ceiling on the yield potential of a field before it has been planted.

In the Ohio Corn Performance Test (OCPT) it is not unusual for hybrid entries of similar maturity to differ in yield by 80 bu./acre, or more, depending on test site. Growers should choose hybrids best suited to their farm operation. Corn acreage, previous crop, soil type, tillage practices, desired harvest moisture and pest problems determine the relative importance of such traits as drydown, insect and disease resistance, herbicide resistance, early plant vigor, etc. End uses of corn should also be considered - is corn to be used for grain or silage? Is it to be sold directly to the elevator as shelled grain or used on the farm? Are there premiums available at nearby elevators, or from end users, for identity-preserved (IP) specialty corns such as food grade or non-GMO corn? Capacity to harvest, dry and store grain also needs consideration. The following are some tips to consider in choosing hybrids that are best suited to various production systems.

 

1. Select hybrids with maturity ratings appropriate for your geographic area or circumstances. Corn for grain should reach physiological maturity, or black layer, (maximum kernel dry weight) one to two weeks before the first killing frost in the fall. Grain drying can be a major cost in corn production. Use days-to-maturity, growing degree day (GDD) ratings and harvest grain moisture data from performance trials to determine differences in hybrid maturity and dry down. In 2012 average grain moisture at most OCPT locations was well above 20% at harvest so grain moistures should be useful in assessing differences in maturity and dry down among hybrids. One of the most effective strategies for spreading risk – and widening the harvest interval – is planting multiple hybrids of varying maturity.