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Taking a Look at Corn Variety Data

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
December 16, 2015        
Source:  Dan Martens, Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties


Taking a Look at Corn Variety Data
By Dan Martens, University of Minnesota Extension

FOLEY, Minn. (12/16/15) — We usually figure that later maturing varieties have more yield potential than early maturing varieties. At the same time, I’ve heard Extension corn agronomist Jeff Coulter say, “There can be more variability in grain yield among hybrids within a given relative maturity group than there is between maturity groups.”

There are some reasons for strategically using earlier varieties for some fields or parts of fields, harvesting some corn silage earlier, making manure applications, planting cover crops, delay spring planting for weed control strategies, reducing dry weather risk lighter soils; and others. For some farms planting a range of maturities is a good risk management strategy.

Here’s a little bit of what we see in looking at the U of M Variety Trials at Central Minnesota locations in 2015. Central locations are noted as Hutchinson, Morris, and Rosemount. I think about Rosemount soil as being a little bit on the sandy side, Hutchinson soil being on the heavier side and Morris being a little more in the middle. It looks like Rosemount did better this year than Hutchinson or Morris. I wonder if it was too wet at Hutch and Morris early in the summer. I know some parts of western Minnesota got quite dry later in the summer.

Across all three sites, varieties listed as “early maturing” with Relative Maturities from 90 to 96 averaged 207 bushels per acre with a range from 177 to 225 and a Least Statistical Difference of 13 bushels per acre. The lowest individual average was 144 at Hutchinson. That same variety tested 192 and 212 at the other two sites. The highest average for an individual “early” variety was 256 at Rosemount and that variety tested 184 and 192 at the other two sites. This indicates the need for caution when looking at varieties at one location. It would be interesting to see the range of yields for each individual variety at each site.  

The varieties that were listed as “late maturing,” with Relative Maturities from 98 to 105, averaged 215 bushels per acre with a range from 191 to 257 with a Least Statistical Difference of 14 bushels per acre. The lowest yield at an individual site among the late maturing group was 126 and the highest was 277.

I could look at that and say later varieties averaging 215 compared to early varieties averaging 207 might give later varieties a little bit of an edge. But there IS more difference among varieties within a maturity range than between maturity ranges – from 177 to 225 for the early group and from 191 to 257 for the late group.

It’s also interesting to note that the highest average yield for a variety at Hutchinson was 240 bushels per acre and one of these varieties was in the early group at 95 days and one in the late group at 102 days. At Morris the highest variety was in the late group at 103 days with a yield of 269 and the highest early variety was 90 days at 238 bushels. In Rosemount the highest yield was in the late group at 103 days and 257 bushels; and the high in the early group 95 days and 256 bushels.

The discussion about yield compared to maturity could get more relevant if we find practical ways to gain measurable benefits from cover crops. Then getting the corn crop off earlier would allow  more time for a cover crop to develop following harvest…without giving up too much yield. The prospects of this could vary with soil types and other production practices. It might take gaining 2 to 4 weeks to make much difference with cover crops in the fall. It’s probably difficult to gain that much time with variety selection. We’ll learn more through many things farmers are looking at along with research efforts.

In Stearns Benton and Morrison Counties, you’re welcome to call the County Extension Office for assistance in finding or getting U of M Variety Trial Information: Stearns 320-255-6169, Benton 320-968-5077, and Morrison 320-632-0161. Website users can search for “Minnesota Agriculture Experiment Station.” You may find information provided through other channels.


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