COLUMBUS, Ohio – A growing season filled with environmental stresses – from a wet spring, to a dry summer, to severe insect infestations – may have one advantage.
It puts corn hybrids through the ultimate performance test.
Because of the myriad of problems corn growers faced this year, the emphasis of the 2002 Ohio Corn Performance Test was stability – and many hybrids out-performed Ohio State University Extension agronomists’ expectations.
“This year will probably go down as one of the worst droughts we’ve experienced,” said Peter Thomison, an Ohio State Extension agronomist.
“Nevertheless, it’s remarkable how well some of the corn performed given not only the dry weather but the very high temperatures we experienced this year.
“In locations where we did manage to get rainfall at key times, we ended up with halfway decent yields, and at sites where it was just extremely stressful, we managed to get yields approaching 100 bushels an acre.”
Small consolation. The favorable results of the corn performance test, which is designed to provide seed companies and growers information on a range of crop characteristics, is a small consolation for Ohio growers who may be facing the lowest corn yields in over a decade.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ohio’s corn yields were estimated at 96 bushels per acre in November, down from 104 bushels per acre the month before, and will likely continue to decrease.
Ohio saw an average corn yield of 138 bushels per acre in 2001.
“The last year we saw such low yields was in 1991 and we are getting close to the infamous 1988 drought. We had not only a wet spring and a dry, hot summer, but the crop also suffered from late plantings in the spring and severe flea beetle infestations throughout the season,” said Thomison.
“Nevertheless, because of the rainfall variation across the state, we had some growers who said they got some of the best yields they’ve ever had and some growers who said that they got the worst.”
Analysis. Under the 2002 Ohio Corn Performance Test, researchers analyzed 236 yellow and white corn hybrids representing 38 commercial brands.
The hybrids, which were evaluated throughout three Ohio regions at 11 test sites , were tested for such characteristics as yield, grain moisture, stalk and root lodging, final stand, emergence, insect and disease resistance, protein, oil, starch and test weight.
“What a grower should be looking for are hybrids that perform well under a wide range of environments,” he said.
“For example, if a grower identifies a hybrid that yields well under both wet and dry environments, then it’s one that shows considerable yield stability.”
Regional results. Results of the evaluations revealed that early-maturing hybrids planted in the southwest and west central region averaged yields of 155 bushels per acre with yields ranging from 80 to 193 bushels per acre.
In the northwest region, yields averaged 76 bushels per acre with yields ranging from 61 to 87 bushels per acre.
In the northeast and north central region, yields averaged 129 bushels per acre with yields ranging from 67 to 164 bushels per acre.
Full-season hybrids planted in the southwest and west central region averaged 151 bushels per acre with yields ranging from 79 to 194 bushels per acre. Yields in the northwest region averaged 77 bushels per acre with yields ranging from 65 to 91 bushels per acre.
Yields in the northeast and north central region averaged 130 bushels per acre with yields ranging from 63 to 173 bushels per acre.
“It was a year where we experienced a host of problems and our corn performance trials, I think, mirrored what growers across the state experienced,” said Thomison.
“Because of such severe stress conditions, we included a note of caution in the results that growers should not use a single location when making a hybrid selection.
“They should try to use multiple years of data from as many locations as possible.”
Information on the 2002 Corn Performance Test can be obtained by logging on to www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/corn2002/.
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