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Choosing the Right Corn Hybrid When Planting is Delayed

The extended cool, wet weather that characterizes this spring doesn’t necessarily mean that producers have to sacrifice yield when switching from full-season hybrids to earlier maturing hybrids. With the delay in planting projected for most of Michigan, producers should begin evaluating switching corn hybrids to match them more closely to the remaining growing degree days (GDD).

When planting is delayed past the ideal planting date, yields will be reduced for all hybrid maturities. However, research by Michigan State University Extension educators shows that mid-season hybrids can have similar yields and maybe reach physiological maturity (black layer) when GDDs are reduced with a shorter growing season when compared to full-season hybrids.

Field trials from MSU’s Thumb Ag Research and Education (TARE) have been done the last four years comparing three maturity ranges planted at the same locations. Often, there is far more variation in yield between hybrids of like maturity than there is between maturity ranges. To view the full version of the 2013 trials, go to: 2013 TARE Field Trials.

A new decision tool for evaluating corn hybrid GDD is available for producers. To view, go to U2U Decision Support Tool for Corn Growing Degree Days. This tool is a USDA-funded research and Extension project and puts current conditions into a 30-year historical perspective and offers trend projections, based on climatology, through the end of the calendar year. GDD projections, combined with analysis of historical analog data, can help producers make decisions about:

  • Climate risks –identify the likelihood of early and late frosts or freezes.
  • Activity planning – consider corn hybrid estimated physiological maturity requirements, along with GDD projections when making seed purchasing and other growing season decisions.
  • Marketing – look at historical and projected GDD when considering forward pricing and crop insurance purchases.

Source: Michigan State University Extension 

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