4 Things to Consider in Corn Seed Selection

FBN Network

Sep 01, 2023

Selecting corn seed early is essential for the success and profitability of your upcoming corn crop. When making an online corn seed purchase, remember the following four tips to simplify the selection process and make the right choice based on your operation’s unique needs:

  1. Prioritize ROI

  2. Consider agronomic traits

  3. Factor in environmental conditions

  4. Plan for disease and pest resistance

[RELATED: Ask These 5 Questions Before Buying Seed This Year]

1. Make ROI Your Top Priority

Yield potential is always top of mind when selecting seed, but it can be easy to place too much emphasis on it. While choosing seeds with higher yield potential may help you hit your target, you may see your profit neutralized when it’s time to calculate your seed and chemical expenses.

Instead, consider the cost-effectiveness of the seed variety you choose, the consistency of its performance and what the overall price to value proposition means to you and the field you are planting it in. Knowing your ROI will help you determine the yield potential and the cost of the seed and inputs required for successful crop production. 

[Download the free FBN Seed Selection Playbook: How to Use Data to Boost Seed ROI]

2. How Do Agronomic Traits Affect Seed Selection? 

Agronomic traits can have a direct impact on your corn crop by affecting the following:

  • Maturity

  • Plant height and structure

  • Yield potential

  • Stalk strength and standability


Choosing the proper maturity is crucial to match the length of your growing season, but so is how you manage it. Consider using multiple maturities to help mitigate the risks of both known and unknown environmental factors you could see throughout the season, as well as to better plan out your harvest timeline and progression to gain more operational efficiency  

Plant Height and Structure

Plant height and structure affect crop management practices like planting density, disease management and ease of mechanical harvesting. Taller plants may require more space between rows to prevent shading, while shorter, more compact plants might have better standability in windy conditions.  Ear placement is another factor that can have an impact on plant stability and harvestability.

Yield Potential

Traits like ear size, kernel count and overall plant health directly impact how much yield a particular variety can produce under specific conditions and how that hybrid can or should be managed..

Stalk Strength and Standability

Strong stalks and good standability traits can withstand the weight of developing ears and reduce losses due to lodging. 

[RELATED: Which Seed Traits Could Increase Your Net Revenue?]

3. How Do Environmental Conditions Affect Corn Seed Selection?

Because every region has its own challenges, farmers must pay close attention to local climate and weather conditions . Factors such as temperature, precipitation, soil type and the length of the growing season are critical in seed selection. 

Many corn seed varieties are bred or selected for traits that enhance their ability to withstand conditions such as: 

  • Extreme heat

  • Drought

  • Excessive rainfall 

  • Cold or wet soils

Heat Stress

Heat stress can reduce yield by inhibiting successful pollination and reducing photosynthesis. Finding seed varieties that maintain better water use efficiency in hot conditions and/or that are proven to be consistent under stress can increase chances for success. In environments where heat stress is almost a certainty, you can consider biostimulants and photosynthetic enhancers such as Atarrus™ to help improve photosynthesis and mitigate the impacts of stress.

Drought Tolerance

Drought-tolerant corn varieties help withstand periods of water scarcity by using available soil moisture and exhibiting resilience to water stress. These varieties slow crop water uptake from the soil and use it more efficiently during crop production. 

Consider products from FBN® in the Master Farmer lineup that contain Artesian® technology, the industry leader in water use technology.

Water Tolerance

In regions with heavy rainfall — and, subsequently, prevalent fungal infections — look for corn seed varieties that can resist diseases associated with excess moisture. Preventing fungal leaf diseases and stalk rots will promote strong root development to avoid waterlogging and nutrient leaching.  

Cold & Wet Soils

Depending on your management practices, understanding which hybrids to avoid in cold or wet soils can make a major difference in success. Consult your local seed expert to ensure the right hybrids get places in the right fields.

[READ NEXT: What’s the Difference Between Conventional, GMO, Non-GMO and Organic Corn?]

4. Proactively Plan for Disease and Pest Resistance

Seeds resistant to common diseases and pests can contribute to overall yield stability. When selecting corn seed, look for varieties that have been specifically bred or genetically modified to address these issues. This helps reduce the need for excessive pesticide applications and minimizes crop losses.

FBN’s Seed Finder tool provides clear, straightforward information on different seed varieties with disease and pest resistance. By filtering out noise and unreliable data to show only large-scale, on-farm seed performance, the proprietary tool helps farmers compare key data points like seed traits, relative maturity, average yield and more. As an FBN member actively contributing data to the network you can unlock this tool and more using the FBN “Analyze” tab. 

FBN also offers tech sheets for all seeds available for purchase on FBN Direct®. Seed tech sheets include guidance on seed performance in various categories, including:

  • Disease pressure resistance

  • Emergence

  • Relative height

  • Color

You can access these tech sheets on product pages for each seed type. Click on the “Product Tech Sheet” link below the seed name. For example, here’s the tech sheet for MRZ-P112-D Brand

[RELATED: Growing Conventional Corn 101]

Find the Right Corn Seed for Your Operation

FBN Direct has a diverse seed portfolio that puts you in control of seed purchasing so you can plant what you want, when you want. With detailed tech sheets, transparent pricing and an expedient delivery process that delivers seed straight to your farm, FBN helps you stay in control of profitability from start to finish. In addition, a 1:1 consultation with an FBN seed expert is always just one call or one click away.

Explore the FBN corn lineup:

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FBN Network

Sep 01, 2023

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