Frequently Asked Questions

Why isn’t “My Favorite Number” in the test?

Because it wasn’t selected as a widely-grown entry, and the supplier didn’t submit it as a paid entry. If you’d like to see it in the test, contact your seed dealer or the company’s research director and ask him or her to enter it next season.

How do you select the varieties/hybrids you test?

We test a number of “widely-grown” varieties as a means of lending some continuity to tests across districts and years. Widely-grown varieties are selected through consultation with market research and seed company personnel. Widely-grown varieties are tested without charge to the company providing the seed. All other varieties are submitted by seed companies and genetic suppliers. If a corn hybrid or soybean variety is available for sale in Iowa, it is eligible to be entered into our tests.

Can a company overload a test with varieties or hybrids to guarantee a winner?

Companies are limited to 6 varieties or hybrids per test. It’s important to note that the number of varieties or hybrids entered by a company isn’t necessarily related to the chances of having the top in a test. As an example, let’s say that Corn Company A has 6 hybrids in a 50-entry test, while Corn Company B has only 1 hybrid in the same test. Who has a better chance of winning? Many people assume Corn Company A has a 6-fold greater chance of winning the test, but this is not correct. The only way for this to be true is if ALL THE HYBRIDS IN THE TEST HAVE EQUAL YIELD POTENTIAL. This is clearly not the case, and it’s why there is value in variety trials. So which company has a better chance of winning the test? The one with the best hybrid for the region(s) in which we’re testing.

In what types of environments do you grow your plots?

We try to find locations that are representative of the regions in which we grow tests. Other than that, our main criterion is to find an area that is relatively uniform in soil type, slope, and drainage. Because of manpower and monetary constraints, it is impossible for us to test on every available soil type. Fortunately, this does not reduce the importance or the applicability of the data.

If the test isn’t grown on my farm, or on my soil type, are the data applicable to my field?

Yes! Many studies have been done to interpret the usefulness of yield trials to predict variety performance the following season. The results of nearly all of these studies indicate that the more information you have, the more reliable the predictive values will be. This means that data collected from multiple replications at multiple locations are more valuable than data from a single site. In fact, data from 3 locations within your region are more reliable than data from a test plot in your own field!