Review your field notes when purchasing soybean and corn seed

Review variety trials, field scouting notes, company disease and soybean cyst nematode-resistance ratings before purchasing corn and soybean seed.

The deadline for ordering and paying for seed purchases for the maximum discount usually occurs by mid-November. While most producers are still busy finishing up harvest, the time to make varietal decisions is pretty much at hand. Michigan State University Extension publishes the Corn and Soybean Variety Trials as soon as possible each fall so that growers can look at performance data at several locations around Michigan.

Most university agronomists from around the Midwest suggest that growers look at variety performance at multiple locations (and perhaps years) to look at the impact of variable weather conditions on individual varieties. The ability to look at multiple locations in Michigan during 2012 should provide a good look at weather conditions ranging from severe drought to adequate rainfall. With seed expected to be in shorter supply this year due to drought conditions in some production areas in the United States, reviewing performance of “Plan B” varieties may be extremely important. By selecting varieties that performed well across several "site years," growers should be able to select well adapted varieties for their farms.

While performance trials can help select well adapted varieties, it is important to consider the soybean cyst nematode activity and history in your fields. Twenty percent of growers surveyed attending MSU Extension field crops IPM and corn and soybean research meetings in 2012 indicated that they were experiencing some degree of yield loss due to soybean cyst nematode activity on soybean fields that were planted to a soybean cyst nematode-resistant nematode variety. If you are experiencing soybean cyst nematode activity damage on your farm, ask your seed dealer about the source of resistance for particular varieties. Try to select a well adapted variety that has a source of resistance other than PI88788. A better option may be to collect samples through the root masses from impacted areas and submit them for soybean cyst nematode activity type identification.

Also, consider crop rotation when selecting hybrids and soybean varieties. Fields planted to continuous crops without rotation will most likely have increased incidence of diseases. This is particularly true of continuous corn, which can lead to buildup of stalk, ear and leaf diseases such as anthracnose, northern corn leaf blight and gray leaf spot. Some generalized disease resistance guidance may be listed as “stay green” or lodging ratings in seed company guides. However, if you do a little more digging, most companies will be able to provide disease specific variety and hybrid ratings.

So, before committing to varieties this fall…

Think about what diseases and pests you had challenges with over the last couple of years. Talk to your seed dealers and ask them to suggest varieties that have better resistance to the diseases and pests you have. Don’t be shy about asking questions on specific disease resistance ratings because fairly in-depth information is quite often available. Review your options by looking at varietal and hybrid performance on your own operation and compare these with independently conducted land grant university yield performance data. This research gives you the best opportunity to see how soybean and corn varieties performed under a wide range of growing conditions, pest pressures and production systems. A little homework this fall can pay big dividends in crop performance next season.

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