February 14, 2008
Contact: Jon Greenwood, Canton, 315-386-3231; Joe Giroux, Plattsburgh, 518-563-7523; R. David Smith, Cornell University, 607-255-7286

Which Corn to Plant in 2008?
NNY Farm Research Provides Data for Critical Decision

Northern New York farmers plant more than 120,000 acres of corn for harvesting as grain and silage to feed livestock. As ethanol production creates demand for corn as a fuel source that acreage will likely increase. The variety of corn a farmer chooses to grow affects the success of the crop and its intended use. The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program funds annual corn variety trials that provide farmers with data for that making that critical decision. The Program has just released its corn grain variety evaluation results for 2008. Fact sheets with the results of the corn grain and corn silage evaluations for 2008 decision-making are posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org.

Northern New York Agricultural Development Program Co-Chair Jon Greenwood says, �The farmers on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program committee have set as priorities for 2008 evaluating appropriate hybrids for growing corn for grain under our regional conditions and assessing their suitability for sale to ethanol producers.�

�Grain yield and starch content data are two comparative factors that can be used to assess the potential ethanol productivity of varieties for this new corn market,� says Dr. Margaret E. Smith of Cornell University�s Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics. Smith leads the corn grain hybrid testing program for Northern New York.

Ron Robbins hosts annual corn variety trials at his farm in Sackets Harbor. He says, �These trials provide data on several crop factors � from moisture and starch content to how well the corn stands on its stalk and how well it withstands the weather. In 2007, we had a drought here in western Northern New York that started in July and lasted through the summer. The trial yields here ranged from 136 to 207 bushels per acre. Clearly, the variety of corn hybrid you choose to plant can affect how much you harvest and the quality of that harvest. This research is critical for the profitability of Northern New York farms.�

Robbins says he compares the data for the trials on his farm with the data for trials at Greenwood�s dairy farm in St. Lawrence County and at the W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, Clinton County.

�The growing conditions across Northern New York�s six counties (Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Lewis, Franklin, Clinton and Essex) create significant differences for producing corn. I look for hybrid consistency under the climate and soil variations that exist across the region and compare that with data for Central and Western New York trials as well,� Robbins says.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County Field Crops Educator Mike Hunter adds, �Farmers deciding which hybrids will work best for their soil, production practices and farm business needs can also use the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program multiple-year corn trial data to evaluate how well a variety yields from year to year.�

Dr. Smith recommends evaluating multiple-year corn trial data in tandem with the Cornell Guide for Integrated Field Crop Management available through Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Everett Thomas, Director of Agricultural Programs at the W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, notes that the cost of production also factors into the corn variety decision and growing methods. He says, �Based on 2007 costs, the low rate of Poncho or Cruiser (a seed treatment added to seed to reduce disease and pest problems) will increase the price of a unit of corn by about $18. Combined with one or more genetic traits such as RoundupReady and Bt for resistance to corn borer and/or corn rootworm, there will be a lot more seed corn with a retail price over $200 per unit in 2008.�

According to Cornell University�s entomologist Elson Shields, even the low rate of these products kills some rootworms and exclusive use of the 250 rate may kill off the weak ones, leaving only the strong to survive. So, if you plant seed corn with the 250 rate of Poncho or Cruiser, be sure to use either soil insecticide or rootworm-resistant hybrids in years 3, 4, and 5 (in a 5-year corn rotation).� # # #