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Evaluating Yield Data to Select the Best Hybrids for Your Farm

  • Local test plots are useful if relevant to your own operation; make sure to consider soil type, management practices, population, row spacing, pH and more when evaluating local test plots.
  • Comparing similar relative maturity and trait packages will help streamline and narrow down the product decision process. 
  • E-Luminate® is a data-driven digital tool available to Golden Harvest® Seed Advisors that allows them to quickly and easily use multiple sources of data to best understand product performance in their area to aid in hybrid and variety selection.
Interpreting Harvest Yield Data
Yield data can be a valuable asset when selecting corn hybrids, but it can also be difficult to interpret correctly. Local corn or soybean test plots provide valuable insight for predicting how hybrids and varieties may perform on similar soils and under similar management practices and weather patterns. This article will focus on a few key approaches and considerations to keep in mind while interpreting yield results.

Things to Consider Before Comparing Products
Accessing data from as many sources as possible will help build confidence in final selections, as long as the data is relevant. First, sort yield trial data into categories that best match environments and management practices that coincide with the fields where hybrids or varieties will be placed. Examples of items to consider include:
  • Soil type
  • Soil pH
  • Irrigation
  • Seeding rates
  • Fertility levels
Once trial data have been paired down to locations relevant to the farming operation, there are other items to weigh to ensure fair comparisons are being made that will best indicate performance in the field:
  • Trait package: Only compare products with similar insect, drought and herbicide traits. For example, hybrids lacking corn rootworm protection may not perform as well as hybrids with traits that protect against excessive feeding. The poor performance may not have been related to hybrid genetics, but instead, to the trait package. In this case, the hybrid offered in a traited version may be the best choice.
  • Relative maturity (RM): Planting the fullest-season hybrid or variety RM adaptable to a specific growing region often maximizes yield. Most farm operations plant multiple RMs for a variety of reasons, such as the need for early grain delivery or to hedge against weather volatility. Only comparing hybrids with similar RM (for example, +/- 3 RM for corn), will be the best way to find products for those end needs. Seed companies may have different RM rating scales, so an alternative approach is to instead compare hybrids with similar harvest moisture.    
    • Corn: +/- a moisture difference of 3%
    • Soybeans: +/- a moisture difference of 2%
How Much Data is Needed?

Having more data available will only increase confidence in choosing the best hybrid or variety. Table 1 summarizes actual data used to compare 2 hybrids across 6 locations and illustrates how a single location comparison could misdirect decision making. The overall win percentage of the Golden Harvest hybrid continuously increased with additional location comparisons. Data combined across years and locations can help get to the needed level of comparisons to feel confident. 

Knowing that hybrid entries will not be consistent across trials, it’s important to have a fair way to compare a hybrid of interest against other hybrids. The best way to accomplish this is by using paired comparisons as illustrated in Table 1. The exact number of comparisons needed is dependent upon how certain you need to be in the final decision. 

Table 2 uses statistics to illustrate how additional locations increase ability to predict the best product. It also illustrates how the need to detect small versus large differences between hybrids can change the number of locations needed. As an example, in Table 2, when comparing 2 hybrids across 25 trials, there is a 79% probability that the hybrid yielding 5 bu/A more than the other is indeed better. Yield differences less than 5 bu/A likely weren’t repeatable.

Simplifying Hybrid Comparisons
Fairly and accurately comparing hybrids can be challenging and require a lot of time if not equipped with the right tools. E-Luminate is a data-driven digital tool available to Golden Harvest Seed Advisors that allows them to use multiple sources of data quickly and easily to best understand product performance in a specific area.

For more information on evaluating yield data and hybrid selection, contact your local Golden Harvest Seed Advisor.

Photos are either the property of Syngenta or used under agreement.
Syngenta hereby disclaims liability for third-party websites.
Performance assessments are based upon results or analysis of public information, field observations and/or internal Syngenta evaluations.

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