Can Insects and Weeds be Managed with Conventional Corn Hybrids?

Some farmers today are finding that they are able to manage insects and weeds with conventional corn hybrids. But that doesn’t mean the practice will work for everyone.

There are several reasons why some farmers are choosing to go this route. These include weed resistance and declining populations of pests. To make it worth their while, however, farmers will need to employ rigorous scouting and pest management methods.

Agronomists will tell you that it is not just genetics that have the greatest impact on yields but rather the management of those genetics. And when corn followed soybeans, trait packages were basically the same.

Of course, not all farmers are ready to make the jump to conventional corn hybrids and demand for Bt corn continues to rise. In fact, two out of every three corn acres in the United States are planted with Bt hybrids. Why? Farmers know that Bt adoption positively impacts both yields and profits.

Finding the right conventional corn hybrid takes time. There are a lot of good choices and there are no clear-cut winners. It may take a lot of trial and error to get just the right mix of corn hybrids.

Crop rotation is an important aspect of a conventional corn hybrid-only approach, as well. In the Corn Belt, for example, rotation is an effective way to control rootworm. Even when there is a heavy infestation of rootworm, taking corn out of the field for a year, can eliminate it. This is not always the case, however. If volunteer corn in soybeans is not controlled or you farm in an area where rootworms have adapted to the rotation, the need for insecticide will remain.

If you are considering making the switch to conventional corn hybrids, you must have the necessary equipment and manpower to make the switch. Conventional corn hybrids are generally more labor-intensive, so it might make more sense to plant some Bt corn, as well. Another thing to keep in mind is that your management strategy is going to have to be more long-term. In other words, if you want to use the same practice year in and year out, conventional corn hybrids is not your best option.

Switching to conventional corn hybrids may not be for everyone but they can be a good choice for some. Do your research before you make the switch to make sure it makes sense for your operation.