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Multi-Hybrid Seed Research Spurs New Planter Design
“Our second year of testing two hybrids in the same field showed that multi-hybrid planting can advance yields by 10 bushels or more per acre, depending on environmental conditions,” says Jason Webster of Beck’s Hybrids in Atlanta, Ind. “We had similar results in 2012 when it was very dry. This year we had too much water early, then hot and dry, then cool during pollination.” The tests in 2013 were at 13 locations in central Illinois and northern Indiana.
  Becks used a modified Kinze planter (see FARM SHOW’s Vol. 37, No. 3) that allowed the driver to switch between 2 different hybrids as the machine traveled across the field. The front and back row units were offset 8 in. on the twin-row frame. “We planted a high-yielding offensive hybrid in the area with the best soils and best water holding capacity,” says Webster. “In other areas we planted a defensive hybrid that would respond better to slightly poorer soils, lower fertility and moisture stress.”
  Webster and his team have since collaborated with Kinze Manufacturing on a special 16-row planter for 2014. The machine has 2 seed hoppers with seed tubes extending from both tanks to each row. Kinze engineers placed 2 electric drives from its 4900 series planter on each row unit of the concept planter so 2 hybrids can be planted together in the same row. The company has also fine-tuned the transmission on the 16-row 30-in. spacing planter to reduce the likelihood of skips and doubles.
  “In our original tests we modified a twin row planter with 8 row units on the front 8 in the back,” says Webster. “That worked fine for our purposes, but we didn’t think the adoption rate would be high in a twin row concept. Using a straight single row for 2 hybrids allows growers to use whatever row width they want.”
  Webster said he and the company are very pleased with results from 2 years of testing. “Our win ratio for selecting the best hybrids for the best soils was 85 percent, and when we put defensive hybrids on stressed areas, the win ratio was 100 percent.” He says the key to advancing this system for wide-scale adoption is for farmers to isolate management zones within a field. That requires GPS mapping that highlights soil types, fertility levels, water-holding capacity and previous yields.
  “In our 2013 tests placing the high-yielding hybrids in the best areas consistently showed a positive return of more than $25 an acre,” Webster says. “We think this technology will improve a farmer’s odds of high yields from 50-50 to better than 80 percent. That could well be 10 bushels or more an acre that will definitely translate to more profit.”
  Webster says he’s looking forward to several multi-hybrid tests in 2014. “I think we’re definitely showing that selecting hybrids to match soil and fertility and management zone differences within a field is a viable concept.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jason Webster, Beck’s Hybrids, 6767 East 276th St., Atlanta, Ind. 46031 (ph 815 584-7711; www.beckshybrids.com).

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #1