Scrutinizing seed selection season

Courtesy photo: Many factors go into the soybean seed selection process.

Sow and Grow

It’s seed selection season and many discount deadlines are approaching. Yield trial results are a key component when making sound seed selection decisions. The SDSU Crop Performance Testing program releases new crop performance results each year, as do surrounding state land grant institutions. 

To view unbiased crop performance results from SDSU visit to browse through various lines corn, soybean, oat, wheat, field pea, barley, proso millet, sunflower, and sorghum trial results.

When thinking about corn hybrids or soybean varieties in particular, consider the following:

• Yield Data: High-yielding cultivars are typically priority number one for producers; however, there are many factors to consider when sifting through yield data. Corn or soybean cultivars should be carefully evaluated for consistent performance in multiple locations over a few years; this reduces error for environmental conditions.

• Crop Maturity: Weather is tough to predict, but most growers know what maturities work best in their local environment on a ‘typical’ year. You can use weather trends and ‘growing degree-day’ data to create an estimate. It is good to hedge one’s bets by planting multiple hybrid or variety maturities in an appropriate range.

• Plant Disease Tolerance: Know your field history and plan accordingly for disease tolerance. If a particular pest is an issue on your farm, consider making changes to your field management and look for cultivars that are tolerant or resistant to the disease.

• Stacked Traits: Many modern hybrids and varieties offer transgenic (stacked) traits that protect crops from herbicides and insects. If resistance to particular herbicides or insecticides has developed on your farm, take special care when selecting cultivars with transgenic technology.

• Emergence and Vigor: Excellent emergence and plant vigor are an integral part of achieving intended plant population. High vigor and emergence ratings help to minimize the risk of losing yield due to plant stress from plant pests and weather events. Excellent plant emergence is very important, considering the cost of seed.

• Lodging: In areas where soil moisture is often high and/or late harvests often occur, corn lodging or standability (breakage below the ear) ratings are an important consideration. Keep in mind that higher plant populations (above 33,000 plants/acre) often cause an increase in lodging potential.

• Green Snap: In corn fields, depending upon growth stage and position in the landscape, green snap is a concern when wind storms arise. If green snap is a common problem in your area or wind storms are frequent, green snap ratings should be an important consideration.

• Drydown: Corn drydown ratings are helpful to predict an approximate ideal harvest date on your farm. Knowing the drydown rating of a corn hybrid can aid in choosing the proper grain maturity.

• Seed Cost: Seed costs seem to climb higher each year with the release of new and emerging technologies aiming to improve yields. 

Early adoption seed discounts can be very tempting, but remember that choosing the right seed is usually more important in determining final yield than other inputs used during the growing season. Waiting for appropriate yield data and/or getting a better look at the growing season weather may make it worth losing some discount dollars to ensure you choose the best seed for your farm.

Selecting a corn hybrid or soybean variety can be an overwhelming decision, but be sure to take the time to choose the seed that is right for your farm. When looking over yield information always look for hard data to back up marketing claims. Take time to review university and private data at a wide range of locations. Lines that consistently perform well across many different climates and environmental conditions are likely to perform well next year.

Upcoming SDSU Extension Agronomy Events:

For more information or to sign up for all of the following visit

• Managing Soil: Maximizing Profit Conference and SE Farm Annual Meeting: Dec. 7 from 8:45 a.m.-4 p.m. CST at Yankton

• Sustaining the Legacy at Pierre: Dec. 9-10 from 9 a.m-7pm./9 a.m.- 4 p.m. CST

• 2021 Ag Economic Dialogues December 12-17 at 10 a.m. CST on Zoom.


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