Corn growers can gain insight into conventional, drought-tolerant hybrids

ADA, Ohio — Corn growers thinking about planting decisions for the 2013 season and debating whether to use drought-tolerant hybrids or conventional hybrids may want to consider how drought-resistant hybrids respond to typical growing conditions as well as in drought-stressed conditions, an Ohio State University Extension expert said.

While new drought-tolerant corn hybrids are marketed to provide a margin of protection in drought-stressed conditions as well as non-drought-stressed conditions, growers can benefit from gaining more perspective on the issue, considering Ohio in a typical year can experience stress from extreme cold, extreme rain or extreme drought, said Peter Thomison, an OSU Extension agronomist.

Presentation

Thomison will talk about the 2012 growing season and new tools growers have for managing drought during a presentation March 6 at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference.

Such decisions are crucial as growers prepare for the upcoming planting season, many of whom were hard-hit by the 2012 drought that left farmers nationwide with losses and lower yields due to the worst dry conditions in nearly 50 years.

“Growers are aware that weather can have major impact on the practices they pick, and they want to limit their exposure,” he said.

“Some growers will view the 2012 growing season as an aberration and continue their traditional practices.

“If they’re using best management practices, that’s fine. But I think that as many growers are hearing more about climate change and the potential for more erratic weather conditions, they don’t want to use growing practices that count on good growing conditions and are looking at ways they can weather-proof their crops.”

The CTC conference will feature some 60 presenters and include information on nutrient management, soil and water, “Corn University,” “Soybean School,” crop scouting, no-till and seeding technology.

Thomison’s presentation is a part of Corn University, a series of presentations that Thomison will also moderate, in which agronomists from the University of Illinois, Purdue University and the University of Nebraska will address issues of interest to corn farmers and agriculture industry representatives.

Topics will include seeding rates for maximum yield and planter set-up for maximum yields, Thomison said. An overall goal of Corn University is to help growers gain perspective, he said.

“There are a lot of new products and issues out there, and allows growers to hear presentations from university specialists in an effort to integrate these issues and put them into perspective in terms of their importance,” Thomison said.

“We want to see long-term data, compare it to existing products and provide more insight and perspective in terms of what is happening in corn planting.”

Planting issues

Some of the issues include the question of whether drought-resistant hybrids will produce protection on drought as well as typical growing conditions and whether drought tolerant hybrids can handle higher plant populations better than traditional hybrids, he said.

The presentations will also focus on other traditional approaches growers can use to managing drought stress, including switching to a corn-soybean rotation for those growers who experienced low yields because of continuous corn growing.

Other issues include growers choosing to cut their seeding rates to not push growing higher populations because of increased risk.

Registration

The Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference, offered by OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, is March 5-6 at the McIntosh Center of Ohio Northern University in Ada. The full schedule and registration information is at http://ctc.osu.edu.

Participants may register online or by mail. Registration for the full conference is $105 (or $80 for one day).

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