When your operation depends on harvesting the best corn for grain or silage, finding the optimal varieties to meet your needs is at the top of your to do list. Whether you need more yield, higher energy, better disease resistance or tolerance to drought, there’s a hybrid designed to meet those needs. Selecting traits you need, opting out of those you don’t, and finding the seed that’s best suited to your growing conditions may require some sleuthing. Which of this year’s new corn hybrids offer advantages for your farm? Comparison shopping may be in order.

Evaluating needs

Selecting seed varieties that work well in your climate and soils is the first step to making wise choices. Using a local, independent seed dealer or company whose representatives know your soils, disease pressures, harvest windows, climate and environmental concerns is a good practice.

In “The Seed Industry in US Agriculture,” (http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/aib-agricultural-information-bulletin/aib786.aspx), a publication of the USDA’s Economic Research Service, Jorge Fernandez-Cornejo wrote:

“The U.S. seed industry changed dramatically over the past century, as more farmers purchased their seed (instead of using seed saved from the previous harvest) and small seed businesses gave way to larger enterprises that integrated plant breeding, production, conditioning, and marketing functions. The industry was further shaped by widespread mergers and acquisitions in the latter part of the 20th century, rapid growth in private research and development (R&D), shifting roles of public and private R&D, and a ‘coming of age’ of agricultural biotechnology.”

Today, independent seed companies and dealers may be selling seeds with traits from the big name companies such as Syngenta, BASF, Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences and Pioneer. Smaller seed companies can license traits from some of the big national players, paying fees to incorporate the desired traits into their own hybrids.

A field of 108-day RM TA583-28RIB in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.

This combines the best of both worlds: seed varieties developed locally and enhanced with traits that may make them more valuable in a particular circumstance. Seeking out the best of these offerings may be worth the effort of sorting through lines from independent companies that specialize in your growing area.

Smaller regional seed companies often offer in-house trial data and handpicked selections for your specific growing conditions. Companies often run multitiered trials, from wide-ranging initial trait testing to local on-farm trials. The closer the trial plot is to your exact growing conditions, the more relevant the results.

Doeblers (http://www.doeblers.com) has an extensive testing program, with a variety of test plots across New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and into Canada. A map on the company’s website shows where plots are located, and what type of testing was performed there. The company selects seeds from a diverse number of gene pools and offer hybrids with the most potential under northeastern-region growing conditions.

Quality control is another feature that can set a seed company apart. Storing, drying, sorting and cleaning seed play an important role in seed viability and germination. Purchasing seed that hasn’t been handled well during any part of the process is going to reduce your yield, no matter how great the traits.

What’s new?

Some hybrids are offered in untreated conventional, treated conventional, or with specific traits. Some traits, such as Syngenta’s Agrisure GT, which provides tolerance to glyphosate-based herbicide applications, are available from a variety of sources and offered in a range of seed hybrids. Agrisure GT may be combined with Bayer’s Liberty Link trait, for example, to maximize weed control. Monsanto, however, does not allow its traits to be crossed with any other lines. So any traits that are proprietary to Monsanto, such as Roundup Ready, won’t be found mixed with traits from another line, no matter which seed company is doing the breeding.

Bags of T.A. Seeds’ finished product await shipment to growers.

Following are some new corn hybrids available from several regional companies.

Seedway (http://www.seedway.com), based in New York, supplies farm seed specifically to Northeast and mid-Atlantic growers. The company’s silage corn hybrids are developed to provide milk production benefits, focusing on cow performance. Its two new silage hybrids, SW 4018L GENVT3P (RIB) and SW 5501L – SW 5504LRR, offer elevated grain digestibility and good or excellent pest control, but require soils with specific fertility profiles. A new dual-purpose hybrid, SW 6620GENSS (RIB), with a 110-day relative maturity (RM), has chart-topping yield potential. It requires high moisture levels at harvest and prompt harvest timing.

Rupp Seeds (http://www.ruppseeds.com), an independent seed company based in Ohio, prides itself on offering seed varieties from a wide, diverse gene pool. Several of the company’s new 2015 corn hybrids are slight modifications of tried-and-true products. For example, the new XR A11-33 is a conventional version of Rupp’s D11-33 VT2Pro hybrid, with a 111-day RM. The 105-day RM hybrid XR D05-04 offers a slight variation and improvement on an earlier hybrid.

T.A. Seeds (http://www.taseeds.com) offers a full array of genetics from the biggest companies, plus extensive localized trials. This central Pennsylvania-based company offers seeds specifically designed for Northeast growing conditions. Cory Chelko, T.A. Seeds’ product development coordinator and certified crop advisor, was eager to share 2015 corn hybrid traits.

“If you are planting 90 RM hybrids, TA255 will take you to the next yield level,” Chelko said. “It is a new hybrid family at 85 RM, with excellent dual-purpose characteristics, with strong stalks and roots. It is available as a conventional and Agrisure GT for the 2015 planting season.”

T.A. Seeds’ dual-purpose 110-day RM TA625 has “phenomenal disease resistance,” according to Chelko. It is available in Agrisure GT as well as Agrisure Viptera 3110.

“TA625 has high-end yield potential in high stress and drought conditions,” Chelko added. “This hybrid puts on girth throughout stressful conditions by combining parents that excel in full season maturities and earlier maturing day lengths.”

For growers needing a tall dual-purpose hybrid that is a yield winner in both grain and silage trials, a newcomer to the TA545 family may be the answer. It is offered as untreated conventional, treated conventional and Agrisure GT.

Taylor A. Doebler III, seedsman, checks the seeding depths in one of T.A. Seeds’ production fields in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.

“TA545-33EZ is a new, one bag refuge solution in the standout genetics of the 104 RM TA545 family,” Chelko said. “The Agrisure 3122 E-Z Refuge offers the convenience of refuge compliance for both above- and belowground pests. As a semi-flex, this hybrid yields on the varying soils of the Northeast.”

T.A. Seeds’ product guide offers a management chart where each situation, such as corn-after-corn, early dry down or highly productive soils, is matched to hybrids optimized for those conditions. This data is generated from the company’s product testing and development, all of which occurs in the Northeast.

“We have brought these and many other new products into our lineup for 2015,” Chelko said. “Our offerings range from 80- to 120-day RM corn for grain, silage and dual-purpose usage. Trait options include conventionals, Agrisure, and Genuity refuge-in-a-bag products.”

Before the ground starts to thaw, start comparing the offerings from companies that specialize in your locale. Review their trial data, as well as data available from independent studies, and determine what the priorities are for your farm. Selecting the traits you need in a corn hybrid designed for performance on your field conditions to meet your feeding needs means finding the best combination of characteristics for your goals. Most likely, you’ll find that combination close to home.

Tamara Scully is a freelance contributor based in New Jersey. Comment or question? Visit http://www.farmingforumsite.com and join in the discussions.

Photos courtesy of Dan Wrench, T.A. Seeds.