Iowa: 2021 Corn and Soybean Hybrid/Varieties

    Sabanto planting first field in Iowa. Photo: Kyler Laird

    As farmers across Iowa wrap up this year’s harvests, as the year ends, thoughts turn toward next season, and what type of corn and soybean hybrids and varieties might be best in 2021.

    This year saw a lot of variable weather events and patterns that occurred across the state. Between the severe drought conditions in the western half of the state and the Derecho storm that tore thru the center, fields have been hit with a lot of obstacles.

    Downed corn across Iowa is a prevalent situation with many fields being deemed unharvestable by insurance or requiring extra resources to harvest. These fields have left a much higher volume of harvest loss corn on the ground than in previous years.  With these issues considered, volunteer corn in 2021 will be a challenge for farmers. Fields that have been completely destroyed by storms or have fallen over due to poor standability have made the problem of volunteer corn one to be prepared for in 2021. Volunteer corn ranging from 800 to 13,000 plants per acre can cause yield losses up to 54% in soybean and up to 13% in corn, according to the research conducted at SDSU, UMN, and UNL.

    All this means that selecting the right corn hybrids and soybean varieties are even more important this year:

    This means knowing what herbicide traits were planted are more important than ever this year, and this will inform you on what herbicides, and therefore herbicide traits should be used in 2021.

    Spring options for controlling volunteer corn involve crop rotations, planting strategies and a targeted herbicide portfolio that accounts for these volunteer increases.

    The best row crop option for controlling volunteer corn would be planting a soybean crop into fields with high potential for issues.


    There are many more herbicide options (Group 1) labeled for controlling corn within soybean fields.  There is also an opportunity to plant different herbicide-traited soybeans that can help with these issues. Planting strategies such as delayed planting and herbicide application until volunteer corn has emerged can be effective. This emerged corn is easier to control and will not be an issue later in the season.

    Herbicides portfolios with an increased emphasis for control of volunteer corn in corn and soybeans fields should be considered for in season control. These portfolios should include full rates of “corn killer” herbicides with proper timing to ensure adequate control. Following full labeled rates of herbicides is always recommended for high weed or volunteer corn pressured fields.

    Grass herbicide antagonism with broadleaf herbicides is also an issue to consider in tank mixes used on high potential volunteer corn fields. Tanks mixed products with potential antagonism can usually be avoided by applying a higher rate of the grass herbicide in the tank-mix or by applying the grass herbicide one or more days before or 7 days after the broadleaf herbicide. This antagonism does not occur with all herbicide tank mix combinations so individual research and consultations with local agronomist and chemical dealers should be done.

    Most farmers are ready to put 2020 in the rearview mirror and move on to next season. Fields are being harvested at an increased rate over last year and farmers are soon going to be getting ready for winter and next year’s decisions. A few small changes will help reduce the yield robbing potential of large areas of volunteer corn. Volunteer corn is not a typical high management issue for farmers so making sure it moves up the list for 2021 will ensure the issues of 2020 don’t affect next year.

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