What should field trials really tell corn growers?


MADISON, Wis. – This is the time of year when growers are evaluating test plots and decisions begin to be made about hybrids for 2007.
And this year is like many other years – some trials are better than others.
Should data from “poor” trials be used to make decisions for next year’s hybrids? How bad does it have to be before field trial data should not be used? What should we be looking for as we evaluate plots this fall?
Benefit of doubt. I always assume the people responsible for a trial did the best job they could in designing and implementing the trial and the trial was conducted to the best of their ability. I am reluctant to discard any trial unless there are biological or physical disturbances that can bias the data.
If nothing else, “poor” trials can serve as a valuable replication for calculating multi-location averages.
What’s measured? The chief reason to abandon a trial is when you cannot measure what you are interested in measuring.
For example, this year, the University of Wisconsin corn trials conducted at two locations were abandoned because imbibitional chilling reduced stands to densities lower than 5,000 plants/acre, except over tile drains.
Since no plants were growing, we could not measure grain yield and the trials were abandoned.
Suspect trials. Some signals that “poor” data were collected from a trial include:


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