Whether you’re buying your first bag of seed or finishing up 2017’s order, hasty decisions can result in less than desirable yields. “The thing about the seed decision is you can’t make it in a vacuum,” says Jeff Hartz, communication manager at Wyffels Hybrids. “A lot of other decisions are locked in with it, so it’s important to get it right.”
Here are some important considerations to ponder while selecting seed.
- Seed guides your nutrient program. “You can cap a good hybrid or variety if you don’t feed it right,” Hartz says. “Have a good plan in place—in some cases you might need to split apply certain nutrients.”
- Weed history could impact your trait package and herbicide selection. “If a field has a specific weed pressure you’ll want to use that information to shape your herbicide program by using multiple modes of action and a systems approach,” says Andrew Hoffman, Mycogen Seeds agronomy marketing manager.
- Insect pressure means you’ll need to buy insect resistant traits or be ready for insecticide application. “Sometimes we don’t need all of the traits. One example is corn rootworm—if you have less pressure you might not need the trait,” says Kevin Cavanaugh, Beck’s director of research. “Remember corn borer protection is a little different because those moths fly from field to field and aren’t localized in a small area like corn rootworm larvae.”
- Many seeds have disease tolerance, which is important to consider in fields with disease history. “Look at the conditions you’re going to plant seed in,” says Lee Rivenbark, Bayer head of U.S. seed business. Because many diseases overwinter in residue you’ll need to be prepared to defend your current crop through either genetic selection or fungicide application.
- Remember, drainage and corresponding weather conditions greatly impact product performance. Ask your seed provider for research on how products do under wet or dry conditions.
- Combine soil productivity with seed characteristics to determine how much seed you need. “It’s not just about planting the right product—it needs to have the right population, too,” Hoffman says. “For corn, you want higher seeding in productive areas and lower seeding in stressful areas.”
- Be mindful of your grain storage capacity and plan your harvest schedule accordingly. Product maturity and fungicide application impact your harvest timing.
- Consider how you plan to dry your grain and your bushel drying capacity. “Determine if you want to dry down in the field or if you plan to use a drier system,” Cavanaugh says. “Keep in mind fungicides typically keep plants healthier longer and they tend to retain their moisture later into the season.”
- Reviewing yield results is important, but you need to evaluate if the seed will work on your farm and soil types. “You want good yields, but you also want to have confidence in the product’s consistency,” Rivenbark says. “You might want to be careful about a product that’s not backed by strong research.”
Don’t think of seed as a stand-alone decision. This single input dictates a field’s fertilizer needs, pesticide requirements, drainage, population rate, harvest plans and ultimately, yield. Look at the big picture before you sign for seed this year.