Source: South Dakota State University Extension
Farmers tend to be busy all year round. For crop growers, spring, summer and fall are times to get physically involved in the field, whereas winter is the time for in-depth planning and preparation for the subsequent three seasons. Taking time to plan on various aspects of crop production — including variety selection — will pay dividends at the end of the season.
Choosing Crop Varieties
There could be multiple options to choose from when deciding which cultivar or variety of crops to plant for the next growing season. When selecting varieties for the upcoming growing season, it is essential to understand the yield potential of different options available in the market.
Different prices between seed bags may not represent the actual yield difference that can be observed at the end of the season. For example, there could be a $10 difference between two bags of soybean seeds, but the yield difference of those two varieties could be 5 bushels per acre. Furthermore, some varieties do fairly well over larger areas, while others may only exhibit desired performance in narrower areas.
To have a proper estimation of yield potential, select varieties need to be grown and tested at various locations before making an interpretation of their true potential. Likewise, varieties used in the trial are replicated to generate the mean yield for each location to minimize the variability across the land. Carrying out replicated trials with superior varieties developed by different companies over a large number of locations actually provides a good estimation on performance of one variety over the rest.
SDSU Extension Crop Performance Testing
Crop Performance Testing conducted by South Dakota State University Extension tests varieties developed by not only the SDSU Agricultural Experiment Station, but also different private seed entrepreneurs. Results from the trials are published annually following harvest of respective crops. In addition to yield, these results also provide other agronomic traits for all major crops grown in South Dakota.
Trial results from the 2014 growing season can be found on the iGrow Variety Trial Results page. This page can serve as a very effective tool while selecting crop variety for next season.