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Consider Research Trials in Buying Seed for 2017

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
November 30, 2016         
Source:  Dan Martens, Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties

Consider Research Trials in Buying Seed for 2017
By Dan Martens, University of Minnesota Extension

FOLEY, Minn. (11/30/16) — Extension Corn Agronomist Jeff Coulter offered some reminders recently about selecting seed for the 2017 crop. Hybrid selection is one of the most important agronomic decisions for corn production. Results from the 2016 University of Minnesota corn grain performance trials are available at: You might also search for “Minnesota Extension Soybeans.”

Hybrids that consistently perform well over multiple locations or years in a region are preferred because next year’s growing conditions are uncertain. Consider trial results from multiple sources, including universities, grower associations, seed companies, and on-farm strip trials. You can look for “variety trials” listed at the top of the MN Corn Growers website at There may be variety trial data from neighboring state universities that might be relevant to for some Minnesota farms - for example, University of Wisconsin Variety Trials.

Identify an acceptable maturity range based on the growing degree days (GDDs) required for a hybrid to reach maturity. Hybrids should reach maturity at least 10 days before the first average freeze to allow time for grain dry-down and to provide a buffer in a cool year or if planting is delayed. Information on GDDs available for corn production for various locations and planting dates, and on the relationship between GDDs and corn maturity can be found by searching for “Minnesota Extension Corn” and then looking under “selecting corn hybrids for grain.” Or again call our county office.

Plant multiple hybrids of varying maturity to spread risk and widen the harvest interval. Very full-season hybrids do not consistently out-yield mid-season hybrids in Minnesota. There is more grain yield variability among hybrids in a given relative maturity group than there is between maturity groups.

Select hybrids according to agronomic traits including suitability for a given crop rotation, emergence, root strength, standability, and tolerance to diseases, drought, insect pests, and herbicides. Standability is a key trait if higher planting rates are used and if there are dry (or maybe very wet) late-season conditions.

I’ll add a couple notes that might be useful to consider. 

Seed discounts may be a good opportunity to save some money on what you spend to grow the 2017 crop. I realize it may be difficult in some cases to get, or to want to use credit for early seed purchases. Creditors who know they are working with a farm for an operating loan for the next crop might encourage taking advantage of early order discounts.

Some farmers try to save seed costs by avoiding genetic traits that you don’t need. Be careful. Consider whether these varieties have competitive yields. Be sure to use a diligent scouting process to know what is happening in your fields. Understand the nature of pests. If you think you can get by without Bt traits for controlling corn rootworm or corn borer, you should have a good understanding of their life cycles and factors that drive population trends and movements of these insects. Learn and follow best management practices that reduce your risk for insect, weed and disease problems.

Replicated plots that provide calculations of a “least significant difference” offer more confidence that you might expect similar results. Varieties that rank near the top in several single strip field trials might offer some confidence also. 

You’re welcome to call County Extension Offices in Foley 320-968-5077, in St. Cloud 320-255-6169, in Little Falls 320-632-0161 for help in getting information. Here are a couple other reminders:

UM LAND RENT WORKSHOPS – Friday December 9 in Little Falls at the Morrison County Government Center at 9:30 a.m.; and at Foley City Hall at 1:30 p.m. Free registration at the door.

UM CATTLE FEEDER DAYS – Burtrum, Tuesday December 13 at the Hub Supper Club near Burtrum at 6 p.m. There is a $30 registration fee and $15 for additional people from the same farm. Pre-register online for a discount at

For possible weather cancellations with Extension meetings, call the County Extension Office, the Farm Information line at 1-800-232-9077, check local radio announcements. Please work and drive patiently in slushy winter weather.


Daniel Martens
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
(320) 968-5077
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