Did we learn any lessons this year? Could we learn anything from this year to use in the future? We planted earlier than ever. The crop grew faster than normal. And it did so on about half of normal rainfall.
The yield maps you are starting to examine this fall probably look inverse to some of the past years. Those low holes, that are normally closer to zero due to high moisture effects, were probably some of the most productive areas in the fields this year. Picking varieties/hybrids that were the top this year may not be the best strategy.
What you are trying to determine is which products will yield the best next year. 2012 was hotter and drier than normal. 2011 was wetter and warmer than normal. 2009 was very wet and very cold in this region. What will next year be like?
We saw products react differently this year than ever before. This fall some corn hybrids had stalk integrity issues, while still achieving excellent yields in the very driest of areas. Ten miles down the road with 2” more rainfall in the season, these same hybrids reacted and looked very different. Does that mean you should go away from the hybrid that has been your top producer in 3 of the past 4 years? I would argue not. There are too many variables to mention that contribute to the end result of your crop. The chances that these variables repeat is almost zero.
We continue to promote selecting hybrids/varieties for each field, with a three pronged approach. Select on agronomics first, protect with the right traits second, and incorporate some new genetics into the mix to see how they may fit your operation. Having a portfolio of genetics on the farm versus planting it all or mostly to one hybrid/variety will allow environmental differences to not affect the overall farm average as much. Use multiple sources of yield data, generated over multiple years to help in your decision making process this year.