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On-Farm Genetic x Environment x Management Trials

Categories: GROWING, CORN
NDVI images comparing stress in crops with enhanced management
Figure 2. NDVI image from Stacyville, IA, with strips of standard management and enhanced management.
  • Better crop management increases hybrid yield potential.
  • Hybrids respond differently to enhanced management.
  • Local hybrid x management system trials help place the right product on the right acre to maximize yield potential.
Figure 1. Locations for on-farm G x E x M trials in 2022.

Previous research conducted by the Golden Harvest® Agronomy in Action research team demonstrated that hybrids respond differently to management practices across a variety of environments. In 2022, Golden Harvest agronomists collaborated with farmers and implemented genetic x environment x management (G x E x M) on-farm replicated strip-trials to better understand how hybrids respond to enhanced management at a local level (Figure 1).

Trials consisted of 4 hybrids planted in both standard management and enhanced management systems. Management practices varied depending on location. Applied treatments for each location are listed in Table 1.

On-farm G x E x M Trial Results

Yield response to the enhanced management system ranged from 6-35 bu/acre, depending on location (Graph 1). Stacyville, IA, and Sumner, IA, were the most responsive locations, both yielding 35 bu/acre greater with enhanced management compared to standard management (Graph 1 and Figure 2). Stacyville had a more intensive, enhanced management program than Sumner; but the response was the same, illustrating how the environment, hybrid and base management program all play roles in the magnitude of yield benefit from management. Fairbault, MN, had minimal response to enhanced management potentially related to the enhanced system only receiving an additional in-furrow application of 7-21-7 at 3 gal/acre + zinc at 1 pt/acre along with 50 additional lbs of N/acre sidedress compared to the standard system.

Bar chart of average corn yield from trials in six locations
Graph 1. Average hybrid yield response to enhanced management at six locations in 2022.

On average across all locations, there was a 26 bu/acre yield improvement with enhanced management, suggesting there is yield potential to be gained on these farms through better crop management. In these trials, there were varying levels of standard and enhanced management systems with an array of different products. To obtain the most consistent return on investment, it is imperative to understand the most limiting yield factors on each farm and focus management strategies on those factors.

Table 1. Standard and enhanced treatments for on-farm G x E x M trial locations.

Hybrid Response to Management

Hybrids responded differently to enhanced management (Graph 2). Although similar small responses were seen across all hybrids at Faribault, G99A37 and G02K39 brands responded noticeably more than others at Stacyville (Figure 3 and Graph 2). In the mid-season hybrid set, G06A27 brand was the most responsive hybrid at all 3 locations (30-47 bu/acre range). G08R52 also experienced a large yield increase with enhanced management at Nevada, IA, (+41 bu/acre) and Sumner, IA (+22 bu/acre). In comparison to the other hybrids, G07G73 brand was less responsive to enhanced management at the 3 sites (12-20 bu/acre) but still had a consistent yield bump to additional management. Although different hybrids were used at the two late-season locations, G11V76 and G15J91 brands showed the greatest yield increase when planted in the enhanced management system compared to the standard management system within the late-season hybrid set.

System Approach to High-Yield Corn

It is evident that enhanced management can improve yield potential. However, are some agronomic factors or management timings more important than others?

At Sheboygan, WI, 4 management factors (in-furrow, sidedress, R1 foliar and population) were assessed across 2 hybrids (G00A97 and G02K39 brands) for their individual and cumulative impact on yield. The entire trial received a base rate of fertility outlined in Table 2. The standard system did not receive any additional inputs and was planted at 32,000 plants/acre. Each factor was individually added to the standard system to determine the effect each individual factor has on yield. The enhanced system received all 4 factors and was planted at 38,000 plants/acre. Each factor was individually removed from the enhanced system to determine its effect on yield.

With all enhanced factors combined as an agronomic package and compared to the standard system, yield increased by 55 bu/acre (Table 3). These yield improvements can be attributed to maximizing early-season light interception with increased plant growth and higher plant density, providing season-long nutrition and lengthening photosynthetic duration with foliar protection.

Early-Season Hybrid Set

Mid-Season Hybrid Set

Late-Season Hybrid Set

Graph 2. Hybrid yield response to enhanced management in 2022.

The management factor that had the greatest impact on yield in both the standard and enhanced systems was the foliar package applied at R1 (Figure 4 and Table 3.) The addition of the R1 foliar application to the standard system increased yield by 20 bu/acre while its omission from the enhanced system decreased yield by 19 bu/acre.

Table 2. Corn management factors and treatment levels for standard and enhanced agronomic systems evaluated at Sheboygan, WI, in 2022.

The sidedress package added 19 bu/acre to the standard system and reduced yield by 16 bu/acre when removed from the enhanced system. When added to the standard system, the in-furrow package increased yields by 6 bu/acre while its omission to the enhanced system decreased yield by 13 bu/acre. The in-furrow application provided more benefit in the enhanced system than if it was just added alone to the standard system. The enhanced system had more plants to support, and the in-furrow application provided early-season fertility. With a solid base program and good growing conditions at Sheboygan, the higher plant population yielded 13 bu/acre greater even in the standard system. If there were not enough plants (32,000 plants/acre) with all the additional fertility and foliar protection in the enhanced system, yields were reduced by 15 bu/acre compared to the higher plant population (Table 3).

Comparison of Hybrid G99A37 in fields with enhanced crop management
Figure 3. Hybrid G99A37 brand in standard system on left and enhanced system on right at Stacyville, IA, in 2022.

In this study, each individual factor added to the standard system totaled 264 bu/acre while the enhanced system, which included all factors combined, yielded 261 bu/acre. Although not observed in this trial, previous research has shown that combining multiple management factors together creates synergy and tends to boost yields greater than the summation of each individual factor.1 High-yield corn management requires a systems approach to set a high potential early in the season (racehorse hybrids, fertility, higher plant populations) and maintain that yield potential throughout grain fill (fertility and foliar protection).

Table 3. Yield of standard and enhanced management systems and the yields resulting by adding individual factors to the standard system or subtracting individual factors from the enhanced system. Yields are averaged across 2 hybrids, G00A97 and G02K39 brands, at Sheboygan, W,I in 2022.
Comparison of impact of R1 foliar package on tar spot in corn
Figure 4. No R1 foliar package applied on left leaf with severe tar spot. R1 foliar package applied on right leaf with significantly less tar spot at Sheboygan, WI, in 2022.


The on-farm genetic x environment x management trials were designed to better understand how hybrids respond to intensive management at a local level. The environment plays a major role in yield potential, and understanding the interaction between hybrid and crop management allows for better product placement to maximize yield potential.

The key takeaways from these trials include:

  1. There is yield to be gained with more intensive crop management during preplant, at-planting, during vegetative growth and early reproductive growth stages.
  2. Hybrids differ in their response to enhanced management. Some hybrids yield well under minimal management while other hybrids require more intensive management to maximize yield potential.
  3. High-yield corn requires a systems approach to set a high yield potential and maintain that yield potential through grain fill.

It is important to understand that in these trials, there were multiple inputs used to achieve the yield responses that were seen. The yield levels reinforce that many farms still have untapped yield potential. However, a consistent return on investment may not always be achieved without first better understanding the most limiting yield factors on each farm. Identifying the limiting factors can help focus management strategies so a consistent return on investment can be attained.

Local hybrid x management system trials help place the right product on the right acre to maximize yield potential.

If you are interested in participating in local genetic x environment x management trials, please reach out to your local Golden Harvest agronomist or sales representative.


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