What do you do when you “try” a new hybrid or company for the first time?  Often only a few bags are bought targeted for half of a planter next to another hybrid.  Growers have good intentions when splitting planters, however, it often misleads hybrid performance and may complicate harvest. 

New hybrids are rigorously tested for several years before being brought to the marketplace.  The key to finding success in a new hybrid is to understand what management strategies to employ.  Planting in blocks allows for multiple modes of testing under grower specific management strategies.  Management strategies specific to hybrids could include plant population, fertility and fungicide application for example. 

Hybrid performance in a split planter scenario may compromise either hybrid due to competing characteristics; competing characteristics can be differences in seedling vigour, early season growth, flowering date or plant height.  The most commonly known characteristic is plant height, as short stature hybrids are disadvantaged in comparison to tall hybrids due to “shading effects”.  Results from Ontario research suggests up to a 32% decrease in yield of a short hybrid bordered by a tall hybrid.  Flowering date can have similar effects if moisture or heat stresses appear during pollination.

To put this in perspective, growers who plant hybrid A (short stature) in 8 row strips, resulting in a 10% decrease in yield over 2 rows bordering hybrid B (tall stature) on either side of the split results in a $35.00 loss on every acre of hybrid A using an average yield of 175bu/ac and $4.00/bu price.

All corn hybrids differ in physical characteristics and the growing environment often influences these characteristics to change.  The purpose of planting multiple hybrids on a farm is to reduce the risk to the grower.  A hybrid’s performance is greatly affected by environment and the goal should be to manage hybrids differing in characteristics to limit environmental effects.

Shawn Winter, CCA-ON, Maizex Seeds Product Development Manager
Twitter: @SWinter_Maiz