"One of the most important production
decisions facing producers each year is which soybean variety or
corn hybrid to grow on their farm," said Emerson Nafziger, U of I
Extension agronomist. "The variety testing program in the Department
of Crop Sciences at the U of I provides accurate and unbiased
performance data on a large number of soybean varieties and hybrids
so that growers can make the best choice possible on what to plant."
He points out that the program is one
of the largest in the country and has served as a "neutral testing
ground" for more than 60 years for corn and for two to three decades
for other crops. The corn entries in this year's trials were tested
at a dozen sites throughout Illinois, while the soybean varieties
were tested at 13 different sites.
"There were 129 conventional
varieties and 717 Roundup-resistant varieties from 72 companies in
the 2004 soybean trials, while the corn trials included 384 hybrids
from 50 different seed companies," Nafziger said. "The total number
of soybean varieties included 295 that were nominated by Illinois
farmers. Fees for the nominated varieties were paid by the Illinois
Soybean Checkoff Board."
Nafziger notes that the quickest way
to find results from these trials is on the website for the U of I's
Department of Crop Sciences. Printed versions are published in
Illinois AgriNews during mid-November. Paper copies can also be
obtained from most U of I Extension offices after early December.
"Corn yields were excellent across
the state," Nafziger said. "Regional averages in northern,
west-central and east-central trials were over 200 bushels per acre.
Individual location yield averages were as high as 232 bushels at
Erie and 238 bushels at New Berlin and none lower than 207 bushels
in northern and central Illinois."
[to top of second column in
Nafziger points out that the average
corn yield in the southern region was also excellent, at 192 bushels
per acre. In addition, a corn-following-corn trial was conducted at
a single location in the northern, east-central and west-central
regions, with an average yield of 214 bushels per acre.
Soybeans followed a similar trend,
with above-average to near-record levels over most of the state.
"Yields were consistently over 60
bushels per acre in the northern three-fourths of the state,"
Nafziger said. "The highest yielding location was Perry in
west-central Illinois, where three of the five trials averaged over
70 bushels per acre and the remaining two trials were just slightly
Nafziger points out that, while
company data and recommendations are essential in deciding what seed
to buy this fall for planting in 2005, the U of I variety trial
results represent the only place to find so many hybrids and
varieties compared with each other in the same trials.
"Companies know their products
better than anyone else, but they may not always have much
information on how their varieties perform compare to those from
other companies," Nafziger said. "Many producers also like to
double-check to see how the seed they ordered stacks up against the
competition. If the seed company participates in the university
trials, such data represent a valuable source of such information."
of Illinois news release]