Match Hybrids to Your Management Style

Phil Long, Precision Agronomy Specialist

Precision Agronomy Advisor, Phil Long

Agronomists often tout the merits of selecting hybrids to fit your soil types, but it’s also important to select hybrids that match your management style.

Latham Hi-Tech Seeds’ Premier Agronomy Center provides opportunities for us to learn and share how Latham® products interact with the environment and perform under different management styles. In 2022, we adapted our stress wheel study to show how different Latham brand hybrids react to population differences. We planted 20 different Latham hybrids at both 24,000 and 36,000 plants per acre (ppa) to track how each hybrid adjusts its ear flex – or yield – to high- and low-competition environments.

Overall corn yield comes from three areas: (1) plants per acre; (2) ears per plant; and (3) weight per ear. If we look specifically at an individual corn plant, yield comes from these three areas: girth in the early season, length in mid-season and kernel depth in late season. The hybrid stress test helps us better understand how your favorite Latham hybrids adjust their yield in high- or low-stress environments, which in turn helps you better understand when to reduce stress for these hybrids.

For example, if a hybrid gets most of its yield from flex in girth, you should reduce early-season stress. Plant these hybrids in warm soils; provide fertility at the planter, and make sure nitrogen is in an available form early in the season. All hybrids determine girth based on how healthy or stressed the plants are from emergence to V7, so anything you can do to help them at that stage retains more yield.

The critical time for hybrids that flex in length is from V8 to R2. Making sure these hybrids are healthy in early summer is more important. Side-dress applications are beneficial to these hybrids.

The last group is those that flex in kernel depth, which occurs from R3 to R6 when the corn is filling its kernels, so nutrients move from leaves to the ear. These hybrids can benefit greatly from fungicide because it gives them extra time in the grain fill stage to add weight to the ear.

Although we always talk about hybrids flexing up for bigger yields, a corn plant thinks of it differently. It starts with very high expectations and then flexes down in each direction based on the stress it encounters during the season. Each hybrid’s genetics can vary by how much emphasis it puts on these three areas of yield.

We were intrigued by what we learned from our stress test in 2022 and look forward to learning more in 2023 about how our hybrids adjust their yield. Talk with your local Latham® rep to help you match our hybrids to your management style. Each local salesperson is supported by a team of seed specialists located across our six-state territory.

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