With harvest drawing to a close and fall work coming to an end, I feel the time is right to have a collective sigh of relief.
It is time to reflect on this year’s longer than normal harvest. Overall, most farmers are pretty pleased with the yield result of the corn and soybean harvest. I alluded to farmers seeing record or close-to-record numbers in the area. I wish we would have known these yields before the unfortunate market downturn.
Coming off of a wet to dry year after a drought year has left many of us scratching our heads when it comes to making decisions on hybrid selection for 2014.
The best advice I can give anyone is, “Do your homework.” It is very easy to choose hybrids that are “race horses” and go after the big yields. Especially coming off of the year we just had.
I would encourage seed buyers to look at the whole picture before making final decisions on a seed order for 2014. Look at yield results from locations in Northern Illinois and narrow searches to operations that farm similar to your operation.
For example, look for corn after corn results if you consistently plant corn after corn or look at no-till results if you farm your ground that way. The idea here is to find yield results of operations similar to yours in order to have a good solid foundation to make decisions from.
The next step can be summed up with one word: Consistency.
Being a seed dealer myself, I completely understand the excitement of a new corn hybrid or soybean variety. Heck, at times I feel more like a cheerleader than a seed dealer. The important thing is to choose a hybrid that you can rely on and has proven to be there year after year. I know seed companies, in general, have been pretty good at phasing out and replacing hybrids at a pretty fast pace, but there are still good yield data on new products. I know within Pioneer, a hybrid is looked at for five years in research before it gets approved to be produced for growers.
After some research has been done, managing risk is the next thing to factor in the equation. Managing risk comes in many forms. For instance, relative maturity, disease tolerance and soil type scores are all things to weigh. A good blend of early, middle and late hybrids is ideal to spread out harvest.
For example, plant some early maturity hybrids to get started on and continue to plant later hybrids as planting season progresses. In addition, I would suggest planting some hybrids with excellent standability scores that will remain standing later into harvest. That way, those varieties could be held off until later in the season to harvest. In addition, keep in mind soil type scores and planting recommendations from your seed dealer when planting hybrids. Getting the right product on the right acre is so important to achieve maximum probability.
My final recommendation ... take some time to enjoy the success we have had this year. It is the holiday season, after all. Significant others, seasonal help and others are important people to thank after the harvest work is completed.
Importantly, take the time to be with family, friends and neighbors during this wonderful season and enjoy time with them this winter. Have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2014!
Matthew Denton resides in Princeton and is an associate representative with White Oak Ag, Inc.