Soil Fertility -
Corn requires 16 elements for optimum growth and reproduction. The corn plant gets it Carbon, Oxygen, and Hydrogen requirement from the atmosphere. The other elements must come from the soil. Soil test for all required soil nutrients to make sure all are present and in the right balance.
Select hybrids with maturity ratings appropriate for your area -
Corn for grain should reach physiological maturity or "black layer" (maximum kernel dry weight) one to two weeks before the first killing frost in the fall.
Choose hybrids with consistently high yields across a number of locations and/or years -
Choosing a hybrid because it possesses a particular trait, such as big ears, many kernel rows, deep kernels, or upright leaves will not ensure high yields; instead, look for stability in performance across environments. Be careful with test plots consisting predominately of one company's hybrids. Odds are stacked in their favor!
Use hybrids with good standability -
This trait is particularly important in areas where stalk rots are perennial problems, or where field drying is anticipated.
Select hybrids with resistance and/or tolerance to stalk rots, foliar diseases and ear rots -
These are primary determents once the seed hits the grounds. Primary stalk rots are Anthracnose, Gibberella, Fusarium; Primary kernal rots are Gibberella and Diplodia; Primary leaf blights are Northern Corn Leaf Blight, Gray Leaf Spot, and Stewert's Wilt; Primary virus diseases - Maize Dwarf Mosaic Virus.
Plant hybrids of different maturities -
This reduces damage from diseases and environmental stress at different growth stages (i.e. improve the odds of successful pollination) and spreads out harvest time and workload. Consider spreading hybrid maturity selections between early-, mid-, and full season hybrids, e.g. a 25-50-25 maturity planting, with 25% in early- to mid season, 50% in mid- to full season, and 25% in full season.
Plant only high quality seed with excellent emergence potential -
Consider small or irregular seed sizes for plateless planters to reduce costs. Corn hybrids vary genetically in their ability to germinate and grow rapidly under cool stressful conditions, but differences in seed vigor among lots of genetically identical hybrids can be greater than genetic differences. Since seed vigor is influenced by drying, handling, etc., a company's quality control standards for seed conditioning are an important consideration.
Never purchase a hybrid without consulting performance data -
Evaluate results of state, company, and county performance trials. Because weather conditions are unpredictable, the most reliable way to select superior hybrids is to consider performance last year and this year over a wide range of locations and climatic conditions. When using state performance trials results, two years of data from several locations is usually adequate; test summaries for three or more years may exclude newer genetics with better performance potential. On-farm strip tests should not be relied on heavily in hybrid selection because they cannot predict hybrid performance across a range of environmental conditions. However, on-farm hybrid tests can be useful in evaluating various traits which are not reported in the large-scale state, commercial, or county tests.
High test weight -
Higher test weight is often considered an advantage from a marketing standpoint and therefore a desirable hybrid characteristic.
Management Interactions -
Many seed companies are marketing hybrids based on differences in hybrid response to management practices such as soil type, plant population, tillage, soil fertility, herbicides, and crop rotation. While some differences do occur among hybrids under various cultural practices, superior hybrids are often top performers regardless of cropping systems or practices.
Herbicide Resistance -
Growers must weigh the severity of their weed management problem against this possible lower yield potential before selecting herbicide resistant types.