“In my opinion there are three key focus areas: first, crop rotation; second, cultural practices; and third, soil type and drainage, when picking seed for each field,” says Scott Stein, Monsanto U.S./Canada corn portfolio lead. Also consider maturity needs, irrigation, fertilizer programs, field history of insect and disease, harvest timing and yield expectations for that field. Each hybrid or variety will have areas where it excels—maybe you have a well-drained field with adequate fertility levels that could use a racehorse hybrid that sacrifices some defensive characteristics to pack on bushels. Maybe a field has wet spots and a history of Northern Corn Leaf Blight—in that case you’ll want to look for something with a better defensive package.
- Narrow down maturity. Corn needs to reach black layer a minimum of two weeks before a killing frost.
- Establish a yield goal. Use historical yield data to determine what each field can produce and select seed with that potential.
- Plan your defense. Don’t neglect to consider disease and insect history for each field and select defensive traits accordingly.
- Diversify your lineup. Compare seed information to make sure characteristics don’t match too closely and check hybrid and variety numbers to ensure you don’t unknowingly plant the same thing twice. See page 62 for more details.