Agronomists, dealers and growers alike work every year to find the highest yielding corn hybrids and soybean varieties available in their area. One way to achieve this is to plant plots, in which they will compare multiple brands and hybrids against one another. These plots can serve as a perfect venue for field days and offer exposure to certain brands looking to promote their hybrids and varieties. Mastering yield in the field is no easy feat, but with the right protocols in place, the right hybrids and varieties, and best management practices, you increase your statistical abilities to achieve your desired outcome come harvest time.
The key to a successful plot begins with getting a full picture of the plot location. Before you start planting, get the complete information, such as fertility levels, cation exchange capacity, organic matter, nitrogen rates and type, and previous crops planted in the field. These factors will help determine which hybrids/varieties to use.
Another detail to consider is equal representation. Equal representation in your plot provides a more accurate portrayal of the hybrid/variety and how it measures up to its competition when it comes to yield, standability and plant type. For example, you want to choose hybrids/varieties that are blocked by similar height and plant accordingly to that hybrid/variety, not the plot average. Plants blocked by similar height help eliminate some of the shading effect, which offers each hybrid/variety the opportunity to achieve equal yield potential. I recommend planting more rows wide than length; a minimum of six rows wide will help reduce the shading effect versus the standard four row plots.
Field checks are also important when it comes to best management practices on a plot. You want to plant the same hybrid/variety in a few different places within the plot to see how consistent the soil is. This will give you an idea of which hybrid/variety performs better on certain ground and soil types.
When implementing the proper measures to ensure a successful plot, it’s important to remember than even with the right amount of moisture and having the hybrid/variety placed correctly, you only have about a 60 percent chance of beating out the competition. Take notes from your plots this year, so that your odds of maximizing yield improve next year.