Reliable test plots provide answers
We recommend that you should have a test plot for varieties you intend to use and always include newer varieties in the plots. You don’t have time to test every treatment you use, but seed genetics is one of the most important inputs in your control.
• Every farmer should plant a test plot of varieties they intend to use.
• If you can only plant one, choose a variety plot.
• Do what you must to stay unbiased.
Single strips are OK for observations, but replication can measure variability and provide more dependable data. Replications must be randomized. Each variety gets an equal chance of being on a certain piece of ground next to a certain variety as any other. Randomization helps remove personal biases and find real differences.
Assume there is “no difference” among varieties, and let the data guide you toward the truth, rather than trying to change the data to get what you want. Some say one location is not enough. I say it’s much better than not planting any test. Combine it with unbiased sources, such as university trials.
Always look for the LSD, or least significant difference, in university tables. It measures variability, which may be caused by real differences in varieties, soil types or experimental error. More uniform is more reliable.
It’s not a big deal if a hybrid tops one plot. Look for hybrids that are among the top tier in several locations.
We don’t always get the results we expect, but we publish them anyway, without bias.
Nanda is an agronomic crops consultant and director of genetics and technology at Seed Consultants Inc. Contact him at 317-910-9876, or Nanda@seedconsultants.com.
This article published in the March, 2011 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.