Hybrid selection is one of the most important factors affecting corn yield and profitability. In trials where many corn hybrids are compared, it is common for grain yield to vary by 30 to 50 bushels per acre or more among hybrids.
Seed costs should also be considered when selecting corn hybrids, as several hybrids often produce yields that are among the highest in a trial. Additionally, it is important to stay current with corn hybrid selection, as the rate of genetic yield improvement by year of hybrid commercial release is nearly 2 bushels per acre.
To select corn hybrids, look at results from multiple trials from reputable sources. Trials that have all hybrids replicated at least two or three times and also compare hybrids from multiple companies are of particular value.
Look for consistent performance
Select hybrids that consistently perform well across multiple locations or years with soils and growing conditions similar to those of your fields, as such hybrids have a greater likelihood of performing well in the future in your fields. However, be wary of trial results from locations that experienced significant drought and unusually low corn yields, as these conditions may not be representative of next year’s conditions.
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When possible, use statistical results such as a least significant difference (LSD) value to determine whether the measured variable, such as yield, is significantly different among the hybrids of interest.
When trying to assess the consistency of performance of a specific hybrid in multiple trials that test different sets of hybrids, consider using a percentile or yield index.
For example, a hybrid that yields within the top 25% (75th percentile) of the tested hybrids in all trials under consideration would be regarded as having consistent performance. Similarly, one could calculate the yield index of a hybrid and compare that among trials. The yield index of a hybrid in a trial can be calculated by taking its yield and dividing it by the average of all hybrids in that trial, and then converting to a percentage.
For example, a hybrid that regularly produces a high yield index (such as 105% or higher) would be regarded as a hybrid that consistently produces a relatively high yield. Be wary of hybrids with inconsistent performance.
Performance trial results
Results from the University of Minnesota corn grain and silage performance trials are available here.