NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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Use Trial Data Information When Making Variety Selections

seed varieties, variety trials

Submitted by Craig Askim, Extension Agent/Agriculture and Natural Resources

While harvest season is not fully complete across the county, it is not too early to start thinking about the 2019 growing season. One of the most important things producers need to spend time on is selecting seed varieties. How do you have the time to look at all the different options? One easy way is to use the NDSU variety trial information.

Many producers don’t know variety trial information is available to them free of charge, and is easy to understand. Nevertheless, what things should you look for when making a plan or choosing varieties for 2019?

First, try to determine how many acres of each crop you are going to plant in 2019. Weather plays a factor and sometimes crops need to be changed at the last minute, but you need to create a number to determine costs. In many cases, buying before the end of the year can save you money. Seed is usually the third highest crop input behind fertilizer and chemical. However, many choose to make seed selects simply on price. This reminds me of a slogan, “Good seed doesn’t cost, it pays.” In today’s farming margins a few extra bushels is the difference in many bottom-line outcomes.

Secondly, what crops/varieties work in your specific area? I am talking not only in the county in which you live, but the land that you actually farm. I have been asked, “I planted X variety on this section of land and got X bushels, but on the land only two miles down the road I only got X bushels and planted the same variety. Everything was done the same, why did this happen?” There could be many factors, but did you look at varieties? In addition, do you keep records of varieties on each individual field? This needs to be done when making selections.

Thirdly, when reviewing variety trials, producers should look at averages. If a variety is only in a trial one year, should it have the same weight as a variety that has five years of performance data?

Availability and diversification also play a factor in selection. It costs money to transport seed, but that should not limit you to get the type of seed you want because it may not be available in your area. When selecting varieties, producers should be willing to try a new variety or two each year if you have not been happy with the performance of past variety selections. New seed varieties come on the market every year so why not give them a try.

Producers will more than likely never get a variety that will have all the qualities you are looking for, but there usually is a reason why some varieties sell out faster than others. Therefore, to make sure you can get the varieties you desire, start planning now.

NDSU variety selection results from across North Dakota for many crops can be accessed at www.ag.ndsu.edu/varietytrials. Hard copies are available at the Extension office. Please give me a call if you have any questions.

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