October 1, 2020

Seeing Is Believing: Fine-Tuning Management Styles to Match Hybrids

Making every penny count is more important than ever in crop production. What if you could match your management style to specific hybrids to maximize your crop input investment?

That’s why hybrids like CROPLAN® 4203 in MaxYield Cooperative’s learning plots are so fascinating. “When 4203 puts on an ear, it puts on a monster ear,” said Dan Bjorklund, seed team leader at MaxYield. “It pulls back, though, and almost always leaves a big tip.”

Still, 4203 produced a decent yield when it was grown in the basic-management section of MaxYield’s learning plot in 2019 near Algona. When it was grown in the high-yield management section of the learning plot, however, 4203 showed a big yield response. “It was the second highest yielder in the plot where we added the additional crop inputs,” Bjorklund said.

This prompted Bjorklund and his team members to dig deeper in 2020. “In the high-yield management plot, we’re using biologicals, fungicides and inputs that are prescribed to maximize yield response.”

“Our goal is to develop a prescription for feeding each unique hybrid like 4203,” Bjorklund said. “What if we can get those ears to fill out to the tip?”

Understanding how different hybrids respond to different management styles is the key to higher profit potential. “We can help you better manage your crop inputs, especially when it’s important to scrutinize every cent,” Bjorklund said.

 

STANDARD MANAGEMENT VERSUS FULL MANAGEMENT REVEALS SURPRISES

The unique design of MaxYield’s learning plot makes it easier for team members to gather data and help clients to see the results. The concept developed in 2019, when the MaxYield seed team planted 55 hybrids in the 600-foot-long learning plot near Algona.

The plot included an alleyway in the middle. While one side of the plot received basic management practices, the south side received a prescription of inputs based on crop needs. Along with 130 pounds of nitrogen in the fall, the south side received 50 pounds of additional nitrogen around the V5 stage, Bjorklund said. “We also applied a micronutrient package with boron, zinc and manganese. Around tassel time we applied fungicide.”

At harvest, some hybrids showed no yield difference between the basic-management plot and the high-yield management plot. Others, however, revealed a yield advantage of up to 40 bushels per acre in the high-yield management plot. The yield boost on other hybrids ranged somewhere within this range, Bjorklund said.

“Hybrid management responses across 20 different hybrids resulted in an average increase in yield of 18.4 bushels per acre. Even when we saw a yield response, we kept asking one big question: is that yield response repeatable and what is the ROI?”

That’s why MaxYield is working with two learning plots this year, including one near Algona and one near Fostoria. While the Algona plot has been rotated to a different site, it includes the same number of hybrids and same treatments. The MaxYield team is once again studying the results of normal-management practices compared to high-yield management practices.

The Fostoria plot includes 12 rows treated with the standard management system, and 12 rows treated with the high-yield management system. “We added these 24 rows to the end of the plot, so it’s a bigger sample size,” said Bjorklund, who noted that these rows run the length of the plot.

Clients enjoyed touring the Algona plot in 2019, and they’ve been eager to see results from the 2020 plots, as well. “When you walk in that alleyway, look at the standard-management side and compare it to high-yield management area, it’s easy to see vast differences in ear size and plant health by August and September,” Bjorklund said. “If we see these same results in 2020, I’ll be a lot more confident in sharing this knowledge.”

 

FIELD-SCALE TRIALS MIGHT BE NEXT

Selecting the right type of management style for a specific hybrid all goes back to genetics. “If we find a hybrid that’s highly responsive to high management, we’ll label it a ‘racehorse’ hybrid,’” Bjorklund said. “Then there are ‘workhorse’ hybrids, which perform about the same no matter what management style you use.”

Hybrids’ genetic heritage influence a variety of yield-influencing factors, including ear type. Some corn hybrids’ genetics mean the ear size is fixed, while other hybrids are “flex” ears that have the ability to adjust ear size, depending on growing conditions.

“If a hybrid puts on a big flex ear, it will need additional nitrogen at the end of the season to maximize its yield potential,” Bjorklund said.

Other hybrids may not need that level of management to maximize yield potential. “The next step is to evaluate the top four or five hybrids in the high-yield management trials and put them through field-scale trials with SciMax Solutions, taking soil type into consideration,” Bjorklund said. “That will help us gain more detailed knowledge about which hybrids are worth extra inputs to get an extra bushels per acre, especially since this can translate up to 40 bushels per acre.”

Being a solutions provider means finding these answers for MaxYield clients. “I’m in my 41st season in agronomy, and I can’t wait to keep learning,” Bjorklund said. “We’ll continue to seek more answers in 2021.”

 

LEARN MORE

If you’d like to get a one-on-one tour of the plots at Algona or Fostoria, contact your MaxYield agronomy specialist or MaxYield seed solutions specialist.

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