Dry conditions plagued the northern plains early in the 2017 growing season, but timely rains alleviated the drought somewhat as the season progressed. Southeast Nebraska and northeast Kansas started the season with good moisture with drought impacting yields during pollination and grain fill. With different droughts in different areas of the western corn belt, we had a good chance to evaluate drought performance across much of our lineup. Below is a high level summary of how our hybrids ranked in drought environments.
A high-level look at the relative performance of our products specifically in drought environments below 150 bushels per acre from 2015-17.
It's noted that corn products rated 8 or 9 for drought continue to rise to the top, with still some good product performance with 7’s. While I think that farmers with drought-prone fields should plant the majority of their acres to 8’s and 9’s, planting a product rated a 7 for drought on some acres can open up some other good product options and increase genetic diversity on the farm.
Goss’s Wilt Tolerance
We haven’t seen a widespread outbreak of Goss’s Wilt since 2011. A lack of natural Goss’s Wilt pressure is good for farmers but makes it more challenging for seed companies to screen new hybrids for Goss’s Wilt tolerance. Fortunately our products are tested in special trials that are inoculated with Goss’s Wilt. From what I’ve seen from these trials, we have strong overall Goss’s Wilt tolerance in our newer products. Hoegemeyer 8414 AM stands out with a 7 score, and many of our new products carry a 6 rating, which makes them suited for Goss’s Wilt-prone fields.
More Harvestable Yield
More harvestable yield means that our products need to be able to stand and hold onto their ears until harvested. Multiple late October wind events impacted growers in Nebraska and surrounding areas in 2017. For more information on the factors that may have caused late season harvest issues, read UNL’s Cropwatch update.
Products from all seed companies were impacted by the winds but not all hybrids were affected the same. In our lineup, we had products that stood quite well against the wind, but some of the higher yielding racehorse products seemed to be the most prone to lodging and ear drop. We are taking all of this into account as we make product recommendations for 2018. Going forward, we know that growers will not be satisfied if we abandon high-yielding products for the sake of bullet-proof agronomics. Selecting products will remain a balance between top-end yield potential and agronomics, but we are committed to providing more products that strike the right balance.
2017 was an example of how genetic diversity mitigated risk from unpredictable weather events. When a weather event “picks on” one specific style of hybrid, a farmer can usually handle some problems on a percentage of acres, but not the entire farm. Several of our race horse products that were introduced in the 2014-2015 time period share a common parent, and these were among the hardest hit in our lineup by the 2017 winds.
We have several new products for 2018 that are bringing racehorse type yields with different parental backgrounds. 2018, 2019 and 2020 will usher in a lot of new genetic options across our entire lineup. Also, with full regulatory approval of Qrome™ brand products expected soon, genetic diversity will get a boost in our triple stack lineup.