One of the most important decisions corn producers make is the selection of high performing, adapted hybrids. Selecting the correct hybrid can often mean the difference between profit and loss. Plant breeders and agronomists test thousands of commercial and experimental hybrids for several years at many locations over a range of plant populations and other management practices. These corn hybrid performance trials determine which hybrids have yielding ability superior to current hybrids and estimate disease resistance and other important characteristics.
The reason for conducting hybrid performance trials is to understand Genotype by Environment (GxE) interactions. If GxE did not exist we could conduct one trial at one location and use the best hybrid to plant across the entire state. Hybrids (genotypes) often respond (or interact) differently in different environments due to soils, diseases, insects, fertility, and especially weather! GxE is called different things by seed companies: “Fix / Flex,” “Offensive / Defensive,” and “Racehorse / Workhorse” hyrbids. Seed companies benefit greatly from on-farm hybrid trials that producers establish. They get hundreds of test plots per year, hundreds of weather patterns per year, and hundreds of disease situations per year.