“Irrigation isn’t always a good insurance policy against drought and heat-related stress, but on some soils and with some hybrids, it can make 150 bushel per acre yield difference,” Heiniger says.

Knowing your hybrid is essential, he says. In testing four new triple stacked varieties, he found the highest yields on these different varieties came anywhere from 30,000 to over 40,000 plants per acre. “The difference in the way these new hybrids react to heat and drought can affect both the bad and the ugly of corn production,” he adds.

In testing in multiple years and in multiple sites in North Carolina, researchers found a yield improvement regardless of seeding rate or row spacing using Headline, Quilt or Stratego fungicides.

“In some cases, the yield differential was only 1-2 bushels in other cases well over 50 bushels per acre. The bottom line is that hybrid corn seed is expensive to put in the ground and valuable when it’s combined, so improving yield potential by using fungicides makes economic sense.

“The positive yield affects of any of these fungicides, again, is affected by hybrid and by seeding rate, plus disease history of the field and other factors.”

Heiniger showed the farmers attending the field day his system for site specific seeding rate selection.

“First, divide the field by water holding or irrigation capabilities. The first step is to rate hybrid response and water availability. The second step is to rate fertility level in each region of the field and step three is to rate site specific risk or stress factors, if appropriate.

Once ratings for these factors are established, determine which rating offers the best balance between opportunity and risk,” Heiniger says.