Seed selection is a critical part of planning
INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. (Jan. 29, 2020) — It’s hard to believe, but farmers in western Minnesota are thinking about next spring, even though last year’s harvest is not far in the past.
There are a lot of decisions to be made and planning to be done and equipment to be repaired before we ever see a tractor on the road in the spring, or before a seed ever hits the ground. What new equipment will I need to purchase, what nutrients does my soil need, what is my fertilizer strategy, what insects and weeds will I need to worry about, how will I market my crops, should I diversify — these are all going through farmers’ minds and notes between now and then.
But one of the most important decisions a farmer will make is what seed to plant. There are different companies, different brands, different maturity ratings (how long it takes from the time the seed is planted to when it’s ready to harvest), and a long list of features and benefits for each one.
Andy Clauson, a CHS Key Agronomy Specialist who is also an authority on Allegiant® seed products, offers a few tips for making seed selections.
“It’s crucial to consider data beyond your last harvest before making seed selections for next year,” Clauson said.
“During last year’s harvest, pretty much anything that could go wrong, went wrong,” he continued. “Planting was delayed. We had a wet spring. We got in as much corn as we could in a very short window before it could get wet again. It was a struggle from the beginning.”
Due to these harsh weather conditions, there has been a trend of farmers wanting to switch to early-maturity corn, in hopes of having drier corn and earlier harvesting to prevent past struggles.
“By switching to early-maturity hybrids and varieties, you potentially give up yield,” added Clauson. “Farmers need to stick with what has historically been working best in their territories. If you normally plant 95-day maturity-rating corn, plant 95-day corn. You don’t need to go down to 87-day corn.”
Clauson explained how temperature plays a strong role in corn development, and the importance of looking at multiyear data to reduce risk.
“By looking at historical heat units within your area, we can find a hybrid that will make it to black layer [an indicator of physiological maturity], to help ensure the best yields to be able to market that product at the end of the season,” said Clauson.
Most farmers are ready to put the difficulties of this year’s growing season behind them, and they have a lot to think about when planning for next year. Local co-ops, ag retailers and agronomists like Andy Clauson are great resources to help do that.
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