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Be skeptical of side-by-side comparisons this year

By Ryan McAllister, CCA, Team Sales Agronomist for Beck’s Hybrids

Extreme differences in growing conditions have resulted in wild yield swings in corn.
Take caution in putting too much stock in a side by side this year, especially if large yield swings exist in that trial. I say this for multiple reasons.

1. Consistency in hybrid maturity exists within a seed company but not necessarily among seed companies. Beck’s 109-day will be earlier than our 110-day. However, Beck’s 110-day and Acme seed brands 110-day could be different. Why would that matter?
2. If you are doing any side by side and have 108 versus 110 or even 110 vs. 110, two different companies, timing is everything. I have been in plots where one hybrid was tipped back 3 inches and the one beside it only 1 inch. Silk death had occurred on the hybrid that was attempting pollination at a slightly different time. That silk death was more due to “bad 90+ degree timing” than it was to the hybrid itself.
3. Nitrogen loss will affect different hybrids differently. Just because one hybrid had “all the stars lined up” this year remember, that was “this year” Next year will be different. Plant a package.

If your dealer and or DSM still believe that this is the right hybrid for you, it probably is. Remember, timing is everything this year. Large swings could exist in side by sides this year due to good or bad timing for that hybrid. Side by sides (to whoever’s favor) with yield swings of 20 to 100 bushels will take place but should not be considered “common” or repeatable.

Test plots
Please remember, one test plot is not sufficient to make any profitable decision from ever but especially this year. Variability will exist primarily in part to the soils ability to hold or leach nitrogen. This ability to hold nitrogen or leach nitrogen varies much greater than the 3 or 4 soil types you have in your field. It could vary from one end of the test plot to the other end. It is affected by much more than soil type, including residue management, compaction, tillage, temperature, rainfall, etc. This factor and silking timing will greatly affect the winners and losers. Take it with a grain of salt.

When will I be ready to shell corn?
It stands to reason that warm temperatures with low humidity will favor faster drydown in the field. Corn that matures or reaches “black layer” in late August will dry down faster than a hybrid that reaches black layer in mid-September. Here are some quick ways to figure when you might be ready to go to the field. This will simply give you an “idea.”
1. Half milk line – you can figure 2-3 weeks to reach black layer.
2. If you have already reached black layer now (end of August) figure .8% dry down per day.
3. If you reach black layer in mid to late September, figure about .4% dry down per day.
4. Black layer averages 30% but can vary from there to as high as 40%. Figure 35% for easy figuring.

Example: I am black layered today, August 31. My corn is approximately 35%. I want to shell at 20%.
35 minus 20 = 15% that I need to dry down in the field
15% divided by .8% per day = 19 days.
I could shell corn at 20% on September 18th or so.
5. REMEMBER THIS IMPORTANT DETAIL! If conditions are warm, sunny, and windy, drydown can exceed 1% per day. If conditions are cool, cloudy, and rainy, drydown could be 0%/day.

The good news is that it appears that the market has been responding lately. Corn yields, for some, will likely still be good. Some fields will struggle with yield due to everything I mentioned above happening at the wrong time for that field. Kernel weights will likely be down. It may not be the absolute bin busting year, however, we have the potential to receive a good price for this crop and profit margins could be good. In the end, you are farming for profit. Keep this in mind as you begin to roll in your profits in the next few weeks. Stay positive and remember that myself and our sales staff (dealers, DSM’s, DSA’s, marketing consultants) are all here to be of service to you. If you need us for anything, please call. If you find yourself having a bad day, keep this in mind: God has blessed you with the best job in the world. You get to feed the world. You get to experience nature on a daily basis and harvest what you worked for. That is better than a 9 to 5 any day of the week!
Stay positive and God bless!

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