Every day farmers have to make tough decisions that’ll determine whether a year’s successful or not. With farming being a business of tight margins, growers can leave nothing to chance, especially when making the right choice for seed selection. A grower only has one opportunity a year to pick the right seed for their operation. Having trusted partners and the most insightful data available is critical to helping farmers make the best decisions possible. The expert team at E4 Crop Intelligence has assembled five best-practice tips when making seed selections.
1. Reevaluate Seed Choices
Before getting into the details of selecting new seed, evaluate how the chosen variety from the previous year performed and review the yield data from other trials from multiple locations closest to your operation and move forward from there.
When reviewing your seed selections, identify which varieties are performing well. The cultivars (i.e., plant varieties produced by selective breeding) that are consistently producing target yields are ones that you might want to retain heading into the next growing season. Seed varieties that fail to meet expectations should be removed from consideration.
Those that don’t take the opportunity to evaluate seed performance data from other locations and sources are missing out on vital decision-making information. Review what seeds were bought locally, how well they performed, and the performance level for varieties used in the region. Use that data as a benchmark to compare to your seed performance. Ensure that the multi-location information you’re sourcing matches your field’s environment (crop rotation, soil, tillage practices, soil drainage, etc.).
2. Pay Attention To Seed Costs
As seed genetics and technology improve, costs increase too. There’s a delicate balance between seed cost and yield potential that can be challenging to navigate. Discounts on seed should be considered in the selection process, but you shouldn’t choose a cultivar only to reduce seed costs. Picking a variety with limited traits can reduce expenses initially. Still, you may incur other costs from investing in different crop management strategies to make up for missing characteristics.
3. Look At Yield and Yield Consistency
High-yield seeds are more likely to produce higher yields while they’re on the market than low-yielding cultivars, which don’t have better odds of generating high yields. You should evaluate seed varieties annually for yield potential. Be on the lookout for seeds that consistently have high performance at multiple locations yearly.
4. Take Risk Management Into Consideration
Different seed varieties have benefits and drawbacks that growers have to weigh. Identifying seed attributes and traits that might perform better in your field are a great way to manage the risk of buying different seed. A few essential cultivar characteristics to consider are:
Understanding what diseases are common in your area is very important when choosing seeds. Disease-tolerant-rated seed can minimize yield risk for diseases such as Goss’s wilt (for corn) or white mold (for soybeans); diseases like these two don’t have other management options readily available.
It’s critical to know your seed’s limits and how well it will survive in cold and wet environments. Resistance to these factors ties into the vigor characteristics of the cultivar. A high seed vigor rating helps manage risks when seeds are selected months before planting, and you have an understanding of what the weather conditions might be. Rapid emergence and vigor can minimize risk under less than optimum or adverse growing conditions.
Another rating you need to pay attention to is standability, which tells you how well the cultivar stands throughout the growing season and after maturity. Come harvest time, varieties that don’t have very good standability can lead to lower yields and efficiency, especially in fields that are commonly wet in fall or are harvested later.
More commonly associated with corn varieties, grain dry-down is the cultivar’s ability to dry-down quickly. The quicker the grain can dry, the less you have to spend on drying the grain. This characteristic is essential for farms that don’t have the on-site infrastructure for drying.
5. Get Unbiased Insight
Having trusted agronomists and advisors that address your particular needs is one of the keys to successfully selecting seeds. Unbiased insight based on reliable data helps you make the most informed decisions possible. With this type of extra support, you can have greater confidence picking your seed.
E4 Crop Intelligence offers unbiased and localized seed placement consultations on which crops to plant, what density and where, before your big seed purchases. By not selling inputs of any kind, E4 has your best interests in mind. Through soil sampling and data collection, we will be able to give our expert advice. We can deliver reliable, field-by-field seed positioning prescriptions that help you optimize your yield with this process.
For more information about seed selection and the benefits of having unbiased insight from the crop consulting professionals at E4, visit E4CropIntelligence.com.