Utilizing the hybrid seed corn spreadsheet – Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus

Posted on January 26, 2017 in Forage Foundations
By Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus dairy technology specialist
Many farmers can still remember buying seed corn from a neighbor because he was a seed dealer and right next door.  Those days are long gone and producers now have to select from a variety of seeds that will give them the best return on their land while meeting all of their livestock’s needs.  This requires using more university-based research to sort through the many available hybrids.

Today, most seed companies push to lock in a farm for next year’s seed package before the previous year’s harvest has been completed.  This means the latest, non-biased research often takes second place compared to early discounts.  If you make the decision to purchase early, then you miss an excellent opportunity to research the seed hybrids and find the seed that best fits your operation.

With so much information about seed corn bombarding producers, it can be overwhelming to make an educational decision.  To assist producers with selecting a research-based hybrid, Vita Plus has developed a hybrid seed corn spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet includes trial results of several seed corn varieties from research completed at Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin.  We limited the spreadsheet to only include the last three years of published data because most varieties have a mature life cycle of about three years.  To help make your search easier, we made it possible to sort through the spreadsheet by the criteria you consider most important for your decisions.  It’s important to note, you should only compare varieties within the same trial year as annual weather variations impact trial results.

When you use the filters, it’s recommended to first sort by the appropriate growing zone or trial area, relative maturity age, and seed corn companies you desire.  After these filters are applied, you can sort the remaining potential seed by dry matter (DM) yield, milk per ton, milk per acre, neutral detergent fiber (NDF), starch, or neutral detergent fiber digestibility (NDFD).

With three years of data, the spreadsheet allows you to change the year filter and see how the varieties have done in a different trial year within the same sorting parameters.  If the same variety you were considering has consistently placed among the top silage hybrid seed performers, you should be able to confidently select a seed corn variety.

Seed companies often offer varieties that have not been submitted to university trials.  If you are interested in a variety from a company that has not been submitted for university trials, you may be able to compare it to varieties the company has submitted.  Through cross referencing, you can compare the company’s internal trial data to the completed university trial data.  This would help identify how a specific variety may perform in a similar environment.

For example, a company may say it has a top-performing variety from an internal trial while another variety came up 10th out of 30 varieties in the university trials.  If the company reported each of those varieties produced 2,000 pounds more milk per acre than the university trials had shown, you should be able to discount the comparisons by 2,000 pounds and see where the variety ranks.

This data can help make seed corn and agronomy decisions whether it’s August or January.  For help sorting through the trial data, please contact your Vita Plus consultant.

Category: Crop varieties
Forage Foundations
Technology and data management