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How Splitting Hybrids and Varieties Can Make You Money

Gil Gullickson Updated: 03/12/2014 @ 12:58pm Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/Agriculture.com

Somewhere, there has to be a field complete with uniform jet-black soils that can spout a 225-bushel-per-acre corn crop year after year.

In reality, though, most of you likely farm fields with different soil types and agronomic characteristics. By planting the same variety through this field, you’re shortchanging yourself on productive soils and bombing out on a field’s poorer soils.There’s a better way.

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At this week’s Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas, Beck’s Hybrids officials discussed trials they’ve been running with a planter that splits hybrids across a field according to management zones.

“We take advantage of good soils in a field by planting an offensive corn hybrid,” says Jason Webster, Beck’s Hybridscentral Illinois practical farm research director. “But on tougher soils, maybe those lighter soils that run out of water-holding capacity and are low in cation-exchange capacity, you probably don’t want to plant an offensive hybrid.”

In these soils, a defensive hybrid that stands up better to stressors like drought would fare better than a fast-growing offensive hybrid.

Split-Hybrid Planter

In 2011, Beck’s Hybrids started planting tests with a multi-hybrid planter that switched between two hybrids based on management zones. Management zones are determined by Beck’s Crop Health Imaging technology; areas of the field with the highest and lowest plant health are geospatially referenced. Management zones can also be determined by GIS yield mapping. Soil types can be used, but they are not as accurate as Crop Health Imaging or GIS yield mapping, says Webster.

Beck’s initially converted a Kinze split-row planter for multi-hybrid planting. In 2013, they added a Kinze planter with center-fill capacity for multi-hybrid planting. The switch between hybrids was made in twin rows spaced 8 inches apart, which wasn’t as user-friendly for auto steer as single rows.

In 2014, Beck’s Hybrids has three Kinze 4900 center-fill single-row multi-hybrid planters they’ll be using in tests. Single-row planters work better with auto steer, says Webster.

Raven will be the electronics provider for the system. Hybrids will be switched by electric drives on each planter unit. New Holland T8 Genesis tractors will pull the planters.

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