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SPRING PLANTING GUIDE TAB - Finding best variety key to success

By Carol Stender

cstender@agrinews.com

MORTON, Minn. -- Producers can't control the weather or soil type but picking a good variety can mean good yields and quality.

Finding the right variety calls for some homework.

Variety selection is the No. 1 decision for producers, said Daryl Hexum, researcher with the University of Minnesota's Agronomy and Plant Genetics department. Producers should consider the traits including yield, resistance to phytophthora, soybean cyst nematode, white mold, look at seed quality characteristics and size and consider protein levels.

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Protein levels are an important issue in Minnesota where the levels have been low, Hexum said.

Growers can turn to seed companies, universities and county soybean grower strip tests for information. The best information can be gained from multi-location, multi-year research that includes variety trials, strip trials and company data. Local data can give producers a more accurate picture of how the variety will react to local soils and growing conditions.

Producers should consider the pros and cons of the different information sources, Hexum said.

Seed companies will have a large number of replications over years of research and several locations. The statistical reliability is generally good with the ability to get local data. varieties are often compared within the company but there are poor comparisons of varieties from other companies. The companies may be biased and look at the information as a marketing tool. The companies also own the data and may give access to the data they are willing to present.

University trials have a good experimental design with replication over years and locations. The University trials compare varieties between companies and are unbiased but they have few locations and zones, there may be limited local data and the plots are small. They don't always correlate well with farmers' fields. County strip trials will compare varieties between companies with larger plots that can correlate better field data. The data is local and unbiased and there's local ownership and visibility. But replication, randomization, standardization and size are limited.

Producers need to consider a number of sources, realizing the pros and cons of the systems, when finding the right varieties, he said. Field characteristics should be considered so producers find the varieties that can address pest or disease problems.

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