When Bad Things Happen to Good People: Craven County’s Corn Varietal Trial Results

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Emerging corn within a no-till fieldEarly spring rains greatly delayed corn planting for producers within Craven County. This was followed by three tropical systems that resulted in the highest rainfall for March-June in over 130 years. Adding more stress was temperatures of 95°F or higher during the time of corn pollination. In spite of grower efforts to adjust for nutrient losses and poor growth, the corn plants simply lacked adequate root systems to handle the excessive stress. Consequently, yield for any location is extremely variable depending upon actual planting date, the soil’s ability to drain excessive water, frequency of rainfall, and ability of the grower to enter fields after rainfall to make leaching adjustments. As such, it is common this year for yield to range from 30 bushels per acre to almost 200 bushels per acre depending upon how these factors impacted production.

Each year Cooperative Extension agents across the Southeastern District plant the exact same varieties across multiple yield environments and planting dates. Craven County has participated and this year’s plot was planted into a no-till field with rye soil residue. As typical with no-till production, years with excessive rainfall often result in poor yield. In contrast, yields in no-till production during years with less than normal rainfall tend to be higher than conventional tilled fields. The point is, there is no perfect system. In this study, we simply happened to be in one of the worst scenarios. As such, yield is very poor.

It is noteworthy that the cooperating grower has done so for the past few years and the plot’s average is 164 bu/ac with yields ranging from 127-217 bu/ac. Results from this year will definitely lower our range and average yield. Such is the risk farmers take.

Data is shown as full disclosure. However, to be fair to the breeder and representatives of companies that supplied these seeds, it is prudent to wait for the complied results of all trials rather than try to glean anything from this test. Other than showing complete crop failure, it does not provide much other useful information. Fortunately, as mentioned above, these exact varieties are planted in multiple locations across Southeastern NC and data will be presented showing each location and the averages of all test sites.

Data below shows a plot average of about 48 bu/ac as indicated by the red line. The highest yield was only 63 bu/ac and the lowest was 28 bu/ac. Because of the poor yield and open canopy within the field, grass was excessive. Seed heads harvested with the corn greatly impacted the grain moisture and test weight. While taken, this data is not reported due to the reasons mentioned. They are simply not reliable nor representative of varietal performance.

Graph showing yield of eighteen corn varieties with yield ranging from 28 to 63 bushels per acre

Hybrid             Company                                Hybrid              Compay

7402 A             Phoenix                                   6542A              Phoenix

4725                 Morcorn                                  55VC80            DynaGro

28BHR18         Rev                                          7516                Ag Venture

3917                Ag Venture                              24HBR99          Rev

4255                 Morcorn                                  4467                  Augusta

2025                Progeny                                   1464                 Pioneer

1870                  Pioneer                                  58VC65            DynaGro

1065                Augusta                                   1912                 Progency