Matching the Hybrid and the Year

Published Feb 1, 2006

Some corn hybrids are like racehorses, impressive but temperamental. Richard and Sharon Thompson (Boone) are finding that a hybrid that excels at one spot in the crop rotation may not do so well elsewhere in the cycle. Corn appears twice in one of the crop rotations used on the Thompson farm, once after mixed grass-legume hay and again two years later after soybeans. The hay leaves more nitrogen in the soil than does the soybean crop, plus more manure is applied before the first-year corn than ahead of the second year of corn in the rotation. This means there are different growing environments for the two crops of corn. In 2005 Richard Thompson grew five hybrids following soybeans in a replicated trial (Table 6, click to view). The clear winner was a hybrid that had lodged (leaned) noticeably when grown after hay in 2004. The lodging may have been a combination of variety and the richer nitrogen environment after hay/manure.