Multi-Hybrid Planting Trials in Southwestern Iowa

Objectives

 

  • The technology to vary hybrid placement across a field is now available to corn growers, making the potential value of this technology for improving yields an important consideration.
  • Field-scale on-farm trials were conducted in 2015 to explore the potential value of variable hybrid placement.

Study Description

 

  • Eight field-scale trials were conducted in southwestern Iowa in 2015. Field size ranged from 56 to 199 acres.
  • The trials were planted using a Kinze 4900 multi-hybrid planter.
  • Management zones for the fields were delineated based on soil types.
  • A hypothetical multi-hybrid prescription was created for each field by assigning one of the two hybrids to each management zone based on which hybrid was expected to be the higher-yielding of the two.
  • In the actual prescription that was planted, blocks of both hybrids were placed within each management zone; allowing the ability to compare yield of the hybrid assigned in the multi-hybrid prescription and the alternate hybrid.
  • Two corn products were selected for each field based on local recommendations; designated as a “defensive” product and “offensive” product and assigned to low and high productivity management zones, respectively.
  • A total of four Pioneer® brand corn products were used across the eight trials (Table 1 and Table 2).
This is a photo of early spring fieldwork.

Table 1. Pioneer® brand corn products used in 2015 on-farm multi-hybrid planting trials.¹

Table listing Pioneer� brand corn products used in 2015 on-farm multi-hybrid planting trials.

Commercial year ²

Drought tolerance is a complex trait, determined by a platform's ability to maintain yield in limited-moisture environments. A higher score indicates the potential for higher yields vs. other platforms of similar maturity in limited-moisture environments.

Table 2. Corn product designations for each multi-hybrid planting trial location in DuPont Pioneer on-farm trials.

This is a table listing corn products for each multi-hybrid planting trial location in Pioneer on-farm trials.

Results

 

  • Results  showed that, at all eight trial locations, the best outcome would have been achieved by planting one hybrid across the entire field (Table 3). In most cases this was the offensive hybrid.
  • At five of the eight locations, the offensive hybrid was the best yielding across all management zones.
  • At the two locations where Pioneer® P1197AM™ brand corn was designated as the defensive hybrid, it was higher yielding than the offensive hybrid.
  • The predicted whole-field average yield for the multi-hybrid prescription was usually intermediate between the predicted whole-field average yields for the two individual hybrids.
  • Yield for multi-hybrid planting was 10.8 bu/acre less on average than if the whole field had been planted to the higher yielding hybrid.

 

Table 3. Predicted whole-field average yield in DuPont Pioneer on-farm trials for both individual hybrids and the multi-hybrid prescription, and the difference between multi-hybrid and the better of the two hybrids.

Table listing predicted whole-field average yield in Pioneer on-farm trials for both individual hybrids and multi-hybrid prescription.


  • At the three locations where the defensive hybrid had greater yield in portions of the field, the potential benefit of multi-hybrid planting was limited in part by imperfect hybrid placement; i.e., there was not perfect alignment between the zones where the defensive hybrid was assigned and zones where it actually performed better.
  • Had hybrid placement been optimal in these three locations, multi-hybrid planting would have resulted in a whole field average yield between 0.6 and 2.6 bu/acre better than planting the entire field to the best of the two hybrids (Table 4).
  • Lost yield potential due to imperfect hybrid placement at these locations ranged from 2.6 to 8.7 bu/acre.
  • Table 4. Potential yield advantage with multi-hybrid planting at select locations if hybrid placement had been optimal.

    Table listing potential yield advantages with multi-hybrid planting at select locations if hybrid placement had been optimal.
    Photo of early spring fieldwork - long distance.

    Discussion

     

    • The outcome of the multi-hybrid trials in 2015 was largely driven by the weather conditions experienced during the growing season.
    • Moisture was generally ample, in some cases excessive, in the study area in 2015, which minimized the number and extent of environments in which a more drought tolerant hybrid would provide a yield advantage.
    • Given that these trials were all conducted in one growing season under similar conditions, the results do not provide much insight on the potential value of multi-hybrid planting across a wider diversity of environments.
    • However, they do provide a very good illustration of a set of conditions under which multi-hybrid planting is unlikely to provide value and could, in fact, carry significant downside risk.
    • Continued on-farm experimentation across a wider range of environments will help direct multi-hybrid technology to the places where it will provide the greatest benefit.
    AM - Optimum® AcreMax® Insect Protection system with YGCB, HX1, LL, RR2. Contains a single-bag integrated refuge solution for above-ground insects. In EPA-designated cotton growing counties, a 20% separate refuge must be planted with Optimum AcreMax products.
    AM1 - Optimum® AcreMax® 1 Insect Protection System with an integrated corn rootworm refuge solution includes HXX, LL, RR2. Optimum AcreMax 1 products contain the LibertyLink® gene and can be sprayed with Liberty® herbicide. The required corn borer refuge can be planted up to half a mile away.
    AMX - Optimum® AcreMax® Xtra Insect Protection system with YGCB, HXX, LL, RR2. Contains a single-bag integrated refuge solution for above- and below-ground insects. In EPA-designated cotton growing counties, a 20% separate corn borer refuge must be planted with Optimum AcreMax Xtra products.
              
    AMXT (Optimum® AcreMax® XTreme) - Contains a single-bag integrated refuge solution for above- and below-ground insects. The major component contains the Agrisure® RW trait, the YieldGard® Corn Borer gene, and the Herculex® XTRA genes. In EPA-designated cotton growing counties, a 20% separate corn borer refuge must be planted with Optimum AcreMax XTreme products. HXX - Herculex® XTRA contains the Herculex I and Herculex RW genes. YGCB - The YieldGard® Corn Borer gene offers a high level of resistance to European corn borer, southwestern corn borer and southern cornstalk borer; moderate resistance to corn earworm and common stalk borer; and above average resistance to fall armyworm. LL - Contains the LibertyLink® gene for resistance to Liberty® herbicide. RR2 - Contains the Roundup Ready® Corn 2 trait that provides crop safety for over-the-top applications of labeled glyphosate herbicides when applied according to label directions. Liberty®, LibertyLink® and the Water Droplet Design are registered trademarks of Bayer. YieldGard®, the YieldGard Corn Borer design and Roundup Ready® are registered trademarks used under license from Monsanto Company. Herculex® Insect Protection technology by Dow AgroSciences and Pioneer Hi-Bred. Herculex® and the HX logo are registered trademarks of Dow AgroSciences LLC. Agrisure® is a registered trademark of, and used under license from, a Syngenta Group Company. Agrisure® technology incorporated into these seeds is commercialized under a license from Syngenta Crop Protection AG.
    HX1 – Contains the Herculex® I Insect Protection gene which provides protection against European corn borer, southwestern corn borer, black cutworm, fall armyworm, lesser corn stalk borer, southern corn stalk borer, and sugarcane borer; and suppresses corn earworm. Herculex® I Insect Protection technology by Dow AgroSciences and Pioneer Hi-Bred. Herculex® and the HX logo are registered trademarks of Dow AgroSciences LLC.

    All Pioneer products are hybrids unless designated with AM1, AM, AMT, AMRW, AMX and AMXT, in which case they are brands.

    The foregoing is provided for informational use only. Please contact your Pioneer sales professional for information and suggestions specific to your operation. Product performance is variable and depends on many factors such as moisture and heat stress, soil type, management practices and environmental stress as well as disease and pest pressures. Individual results may vary.