A milestone was reached in 2017 when M09-01, a new 109 day unique, conventional hybrid averaged 300 bushels/acre (b/a) in a 16 replication trial across locations. It’s one thing to hit 300 b/a once or twice, but to average 300 b/a is fantastic, especially since in 2016 this same hybrid topped our trials at 280 b/a. At Coggon, Iowa this hybrid now has a 2-year average of 303 b/a. Several other commercial hybrids sold by Miller Hybrids and one competitor hybrid topped 280 b/a this year in trial averages. Here is the list of commercial hybrids in the 280 b/a club this year: M06-27, M06-96BGV, M08-06BGV, M10-61, Pioneer 1197AMX, RX12-70SS, RX08-97VT2P, M12-56 and M14-28BRG.
The most impressive part, is that these Iowa and Illinois research fields are spread across 7 locations and 3 maturity zones with a variety of soil types and field conditions, including 2 continuous corn locations. These fields were planted over a 4-week period and experienced a wide range of wind, temperature, and rainfall extremes. Hitting 300 b/a across diverse fields over years identifies winners that can bring our customers consistent performance and profit across the unknown variables they will experience in their fields in future years.
The future looks bright because we advanced 7 unique experimental hybrids with good agronomics that topped the 300 b/a mark in 2017. This was especially exciting since several of these hybrids contained parental lines that were first tested in the low yielding drought years we experienced in 2012 and 2013. These hybrids can be expected to perform in the future, no matter what heat and rainfall conditions are thrown at them.
A New Holland TR88 split-plot research combine was purchased in 2017, which allowed us to easily handle the yields and provide enhanced data quality, despite harvesting some high moisture and wind damaged corn.
Farmers definitely prefer years without crop damage from insects and weather, but plant breeders prefer these stresses to expose hybrid weaknesses and select stable hybrids that tolerate a range of these conditions. Not only was this year high yielding in our research plots, but due to a range of planting dates and weather patterns, some locations were extremely hot during pollination and early grain fill, while others were cool. Our Keystone, Iowa location was planted around Memorial Day and because of the growth stage the corn was at during July storms, significant mid-season root lodging and greensnap occurred in many hybrids. The Keystone field was our highest yielding location and had the highest harvest moisture, which allowed us to evaluate the drydown pattern of hybrids. Our long-term continuous corn location at Wellman, Iowa plot experienced significant rootworm feeding and health issues and demonstrated that stacked rootworm corn was higher yielding, better standing and healthier than non-rootworm traited corn hybrids. Something cool about the Wellman plot was that we identified several healthy, high yielding conventional hybrids such as M11-52, that performed well there despite not having a rootworm trait. Also at that location we were able to look at about 500 hybrids in replicated 8-row plots, where half of each plot got 50 extra pounds of nitrogen a week before flowering. This helped us understand the genetic differences for late N application response.
To sum it up for 2017, Miller Hybrids research plots were cumulatively the most informative and exciting corn research plots I, Bob Miller, have ever observed in 35 years of plant breeding. This type of information is invaluable in helping us advance stable hybrids that should fit the way you farm!