Staying on top of all the information and choices can be hard when it comes to herbicides and insect protection. Monsanto tried to make things a bit easier concerning their products. Check out their online trait comparison tool. We found it helpful and you might too:
Note: Monsanto is big on MOA's (Modes of Action) while Syngenta focuses on efficacy. They aren't directly comparable so you'll need a bit more information when looking at the whole gamut of options out there. Call a Miller Hybrids dealer to help walk through anything that needs more explanation. 319-656-2532.
Why were corn yields so high in many areas of the corn-belt in 2017, despite it being a dry year?
There are many reasons to explain the surprisingly good year in a large part of the corn-belt in 2017. Below are some of what I believe to be some of the main factors:
1) Due to an above normal rainfall pattern in the corn-belt in the spring, the soil profile was fully charged with water, as evidenced by tiles running most of the spring into early June.
2) Temperatures were cool and moisture was adequate up through the V8 stage of development, when maximum ear size was being developed and consequently, potential ear size was quite good.
3) Generally, June was quite dry and so roots followed the moist soil deep into the soil canopy where adequate moisture reserves lasted far after rains stopped. The dry June conditions also minimized plant health concerns and kept the upper root system healthy. This dry period also kept the vegetative plant growth shorter than normal, so there was a smaller factory to maintain in hot conditions.
4) Plants were moderate size due to photoperiod plant height response from early planting dates, cool temperatures in early development stages, and cloudy weather in May. This allowed for better breathability of the crop canopy and possibly less respiratory water loss during the extremely hot temperatures in late June through late July, which prevented pollination problems which are normally associated with hot, dry July weather. The smaller plants also utilized less energy to be maintained and could devote more to the grain.
5) Enough rain fell in late July and early August to recharge the topsoil; and due to the soil conditions, much of the rain in the drier areas was fully absorbed by the soil, instead of running off. This was a critical rain which also led to moderate temperatures, giving the corn plants a longer grain fill period.
6) August and much of September were cooler than normal, but since it was quite dry as well, there was less than normal cloud cover and an abundance of sunlight. Generally, cool temperatures are associated with rainy and cloudy weather, but this year we had an abundance of sunlight to go along with the extended grain fill period. This was ideal for photosynthesis and energy production without a lot of respiratory energy loss.
7) The drier late August and September were also able to minimize root rot development and so we had an active and healthy root system, deep into the soil. Consequently, deep kernel formation and heavier than normal test weights led to excellent yields, especially in healthy soils.
8) Hybrids also played a big role in 2017. The typical race-horse hybrids with a horizontal root pattern had the poorest “well” to survive the July heat and drought, and consequently did poorer in 2017. Hybrid selection during the drought years of 2012 and 2013 definitely helped us have the high yielding and deep-rooted stress tolerant hybrids we needed this year.
This year should help us to not take crop condition reports and early yield predictions too seriously in the future.
Why were wet spots, end rows, and compacted soils so much worse than the rest of the field this year?
This year anything done to compact or erode the soil, either last fall or in the spring, prevented deep root penetration and consequently had large negative effects around the pollination and early grain fill time when it was extremely hot and dry. It points out the need to be patient with tillage operations and planting.
Planting date was minor this year compared to the negative effect of compaction, and if anything, late planting worked great, as long as there was adequate soil moisture to plant into.
I also observed herbicide stress due to the “bleacher” herbicide class 27 products. They took a bigger toll on hybrids with great early vigor, which took up excess chemical and didn’t have the soil oxygen needed to metabolize during the wet conditions in late April and much of May.
Written by Bob Miller
PhD, Plant Breeding & Genetics, University of Illinois
Owner of Miller Hybrids, Inc.
Johnson Co. Iowa Farmer
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!
Thoughts from Ph. D. Corn Breeder and Miller Hybrids Owner, Bob Miller.
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