DECATUR, Ill. — As the growing season that most want to forget nears the end, farmers will turn their focus toward seed selection for 2020.

“Obviously, that seed decision has to happen pretty quickly. It would be nice to think everyone could order their seed in January and February and it would all show up, but industry-wide we just have to order things early and especially with the way the crops are this year,” said Mike Kavanaugh, AgriGold product manager.

Seed consideration should include genetic diversity and maturities to reduce risk.

“Let’s not stack up on all full-season hybrids. Let’s make sure we’re spacing them out. If you’re in a 110-day zone, maybe you get some hybrids that are 107-, 108-, 110-, 111-day. Get a couple of hybrids in the 112- to 114-day range. Space them out. That way, if we end up having a wet season next year you’re backing yourself up, lowering your risk on maturity, and you’re also lowering your risk on genetics and putting things in the right spot,” Kavanaugh said.

Early Challenges

Kavanaugh called 2019 “a vicious year to a corn and soybean crop, but in a lot of areas it was vicious, but yet it’s been somewhat forgiving to this point.”

“Some things that we were really concerned about early on were how this crop actually went into the ground. It went in wet. It went in sloppy for the most part, and in most of the areas across the country with a lot of that sidewall compaction and everything, a lot of these hybrids were able to grow through it just simply because we got adequate rains in most areas throughout the season,” he said.

“These hybrids have really shown their resiliency and the genetics have really proved to us that they can take a beating and continue to do something out there. But, of course, you still have those pockets of yellow saturated areas that are still a train wreck.”

Kavanaugh doesn’t agree with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s initial forecast of 169.5 bushels per acre for a national corn average or the 168.5 bushels per acre that came out in September.

“Pro Farmer came out with a 163.3 and as a agronomy team we’re probably more in the 160 range, give or take a bushel, somewhere between let’s say 159 and 162ish. I feel like that’s a lot closer to where it’s at,” he said.

“Obviously, things we’re worried about now is getting this crop finished.”

Maturity Switches

With the delayed plantings to start the season, Kavanaugh noted there was some switching to earlier maturities that can impact yields.

“It’s really hard to quantify how much maturity switching. We swapped out probably 20% north of I-80 in Illinois, north of Indianapolis and parts of Ohio. Let’s say growers had 110 to 114 in the shed. They swapped that out for 102 to 108 and that made up for about 20% of our sales. Now that in itself I think is going to impact the final yields also,” he said.

“Yes, we’re going to get good yields out of that corn, but we’ve found that the fuller season hybrids — pushing a maturity as full as you can at a certain latitude — your opportunity for highest yields are the best.

“We’ve talked to so many growers at the Farm Progress Show who said that yield is not everything. They look at other features, as well such as standability. We had two growers who said when they were trying to figure out what they wanted to use, they wanted an earlier hybrid, but they also wanted something that was going to stand to Thanksgiving and Christmas because they knew it was going to take some abuse out there.”

Tom C. Doran can be reached at 815-780-7894 or tdoran@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow him on Twitter at: @AgNews_Doran.

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