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Maximizing corn production profitability

Maximizing corn production profitability

Focusing on three key features of a corn hybrid

Ryan Ridley

Fungicide, flex and flat out yield are three key features of a corn hybrid that need to be assessed to maximize profitability, explained Greg Stewart, Agronomist at Maizex Seeds, at the 2020 Great Ontario Yield Tour Final Event. 

Fungicide – Knowing which hybrids respond the most dramatically to fungicide applications.

Flex – Testing across a range of populations gives you insight into the performance of specific hybrids when it comes to population, especially in variable rate seeding operations.

Flat Out Yield – Exploring how to position hybrids to reach top yields.


“On the fungicide side of things, we’re really interested in a response to fungicide where no other factors are changing. In our plot work, that would mean comparing a standard 32,000 plants per acre, versus 32,000 plants per acre where we spray a fungicide,” explained Stewart. “If a grower was only going to spray a portion of his or her acres with a fungicide, let’s be sure to get the correct hybrids targeted and sprayed.”

Stewart touches base on many reasons why a grower might spray fungicide – whether it’s wet, humid weather, evidence of early leaf disease pressure, hybrid has shown to be responsive to fungicide, or the crop is under stress from drought, cold, hail, etc., to name a few.

“Something we have generally discovered in most of our research is that often there’s a better return on investment for fungicide than putting an extra 50 pounds of nitrogen on or an extra 5,000 seeds,” he added.

Stewart elaborated on the idea that a grower would/should know ahead of time if they have a hybrid that has shown to be responsive to fungicide, using Maizex Seeds’ MZ 2982DBR hybrid as an example.

“In our research where we compared the simple response to fungicide, it’s been quite intriguing. 2982 looks a fair bit like an average hybrid until you actually get the weigh wagon in the field. This is an example of a hybrid that you’d like to know ahead of time should be targeted as hybrid that should likely get sprayed with fungicide,” said Stewart.

Key Takeaway – “Be sure to prioritize fungicides on the correct hybrids.”


“On the flex side, we essentially look at response to population. Our range in populations would be in the neighbourhood of 26,000, compared to the standard 32,000, compared to a high population of 38,000.”

Stewart uses Maizex Seeds’ MZ 4040DBR to compare intensive, fungicide, standard and defensive approaches and gives insight into variable rate populations.



“Our target here is really to understand the optimum population for a hybrid and to see how much range it has in terms of defensive characteristics or the ability to continue to yield under high density situations.”

Key Takeaway – “Maximize return on seed investment by getting the right hybrid at the right population in the right yield environment.”

Flat Out Yield

During his presentation, Stewart also explored how to position hybrids to reach top yields.

“In our trials, flat out yield essentially means comparing the standard treatment of 32,000 plants per acre where we upped the population to 38,000, we add generally about 50 pounds of nitrogen and we sprayed it with fungicide in that VT R1 stage,” said Stewart.

“You could refer to this as what is the racehorse rating for a hybrid, essentially wanting to be able to position hybrids for maximum performance when you could put them on good ground and you’re going to give them intensive management,” he added.

Key Takeaway – “Push hybrids that have another gear and do ear counts this fall to know where you stand now.”



The 2020 Great Ontario Yield Tour Final Event was held online on September 2 & 3, and featured several presentations from experts, and event hosts and sponsors. Corn and soybean samples were taken by scout on hundreds of farms across Ontario. At the end of the tour, province-wide corn and soybean yield estimates were released, as well as regionalized estimates for south, east, central, and western Ontario. Greg Stewart’s presentation was given as part of the final event.


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