Corn School: Is there a link between seed size and yield potential?

This spring, corn growers will be planting different seed sizes ranging from large rounds to flats and small rounds.

Does the seed size impact the potential yield growers can expect to combine this fall? On this episode of the RealAgriculture Corn School, PRIDE Seeds agronomist Olivia Noorenberghe notes that all seed, regardless of size, carries the same genetic yield potential.

Seed size is typically the product of where the seed develops on the cob — rounds come from the butt and tip of the cob while flats are harvested from the middle. Noorenberghe adds that environment and growing conditions will impact seed size. If seed corn is subjected to drought, for example, kernels across the entire cob tend to be smaller. There’s also seed size variation based on the traits of parental genetics.

Noorenberghe says all seeds in the bag will deliver the same genetic performance and yield when planted into optimum growing conditions. Growers do, however, have to be mindful of planting conditions when planting small round seed into cooler soils that have the potential for crusting.

“That’s just because they don’t have as large of energy reserves as our larger seed sizes. It can be a little bit hard for them to pop out of the ground in those conditions. But if we’re planting into those warm soils — they’re dry, they’re fit — we shouldn’t have a problem,” says Noorenberghe. (Story continues after the video.)

Noorenberghe notes that all seed companies follow strict quality assurance protocols to ensure seed quality. “We make sure that we test all of our seed before it’s going out the door. We do cold germination tests, as well as warm germination tests to make sure that it’s ready to go.”

Providing recommendations and rates for specific planters, whether growers are running a John Deere, Case IH or Kinze planter, is also key to effective singulation and performance. Specifications for each planter are printed on the bag.”We’ve done a lot of testing with our different seed sizes, as well as third-party testing to make sure that we have recommendations for different types of planters.”

Overall, Noorenberghe says there is tremendous potential in every bag of seed corn. The key to harvesting a higher portion of that yield potential is making good agronomic decisions and effectively managing the crop throughout the growing season.

It all starts at planting. “We want to make sure we’re getting out there and checking the soil, making sure it is fit, checking our long-range forecasts for weather, making sure that we have the proper fertility,” says Noorenberghe. “We want to make sure that we’re reaching the genetic potential that is in each seed regardless of size.”

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