Just a few years ago, all seed companies talked about was yield. For the most part, that is all farmers really cared about. But in recent years, defensive traits like disease resistance or insect tolerance have become a big part of how a corn hybrid is evaluated.
Ryan French, Senior marketing manager for corn with DuPont Pioneer, says corn breeders are stressing agronomic traits as much as yield in new hybrids. “We are really focused on bringing agronomic improvements like standability and root development,” he stated.
He said, given the kind of weather extremes we have seen in the Midwest, these defensive traits are just as important to a grower as yield, “Insect and disease resistance, stalk quality, tolerance to insects are all things growers are evaluating today.” He added that some of the investments Pioneer made 10 years ago are now, resulting in genetics with very effective defensive packages.
With our ability to collect on farm data, he says hybrid selection can be very specific to best meet the conditions of a particular field, “We do so many on farm comparisons with customers we can say with confidence how a hybrid is going to perform in different environments.” He told HAT growers need to consider building a package of hybrids, not just pick the one they hear about at the coffee shop.
Indiana saw issues like stalk integrity and dry down play a major role in corn fields in 2016. So, Hoosier farmers will have those concerns on their minds as they make decisions on hybrids for 2017.