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Hybrid Selection Advice

I often get asked, “Why does Renk offer so many corn hybrids?” And, “Why do I really need more than just your one best hybrid?” And finally, “This was the best hybrid in my plot this past year so why not put me down for just this hybrid?” Here is the answer to all three questions. The perfect hybrid that can maximize performance in all environments has not yet been developed. Different hybrids perform differently in different environments. This is why product positioning is critical for maximizing yield potential in known environmental variations, and genetic diversity is equally critical for minimizing risk from unknown or unforeseen environmental issues.

Product positioning can make a dramatic impact on whole-farm productivity. Inaccurate positioning can easily result in 10–20 bushels per acre under performance. In some environments, a carefully selected secondary hybrid may actually have the genetic potential to outyield hybrids that are perceived to be or promoted as the best hybrids in that maturity. It all depends on how the hybrid is positioned. In other words, a popular, elite, high- yielding hybrid that is mispositioned, may end up as a huge disappointment. Our Renk sales force is equipped with a positioning chart that fine-tunes product selection based on soil types, previous crop, yield history, anticipated population, disease and insect history, and anticipated harvest schedule. For now this should be done on a field-by-field basis. In the near future this will be done down to areas within each field utilizing prescription software and precision planters capable of switching hybrids on the go. The ability to do this is sooner than you think and the results from doing it will have a major positive impact on total farm productivity.

Genetic diversity is a topic that not many other seed companies can discuss. One can actually determine which Renk hybrids are closely related by looking at the chart in our product guide. We include a column titled Genetic Family. The male and female codes are given so that growers can be informed as to which hybrids have parents in common. This is not a common practice in the seed industry. Several companies would be embarrassed to disclose that many of their hybrids have a parent in common. Planting a portfolio of unrelated hybrids is one important aspect of risk management that some growers may be overlooking. A very wise farmer always told me, “If you tell me what next year is going to be like, my hybrid selection would be a lot easier.” Right again, Dad. He had it figured out that planting one or two hybrids based on previous year performance or promotional ads was not the best decision. Those exact environmental conditions of weather, disease, and insects that influenced performance the previous year would probably not be the same next year. He stuck to a plan of planting a package of 3 or 4 unrelated and well-tested hybrids to spread his risk. Perfect!

Product selection is one of the most important decisions made all year. Most of us only get one opportunity per year at this. Don’t base it only on one local test plot result or what did best for you or your neighbor this past year. Plant a package of unrelated products that have a solid multiyear history of performance results and then position them accurately using information available from your Renk sales representative. This will increase your odds of maximizing your total farm yield potential while minimizing your risk of unforeseen stresses.