Today is the first day in 2 weeks that we’ve been able to harvest due to weather and a combine breakdown. So, we are not that much farther along in getting variety test data to you than we were last week. However, I hope to get out some preliminary data by Thanksgiving.
Last week, I indicated that certain relative maturities do better in some parts of Virginia than others. This week, I I’ll get a little more specific and discuss choosing the best variety for a given yield potential.
First and foremost, I will continue to emphasize that variety selection should be based on multi-year multi-site data. Basing your selection on a single test (maybe closest to you) and single year is a recipe for failure. However, I don’t necessarily recommend always choosing a variety based on average yields over site-years – although a very good place to start. This may seem a little contradictory, but let me explain.
Certain varieties do better under high-yielding environments. I like to call these “racehorse” varieties. Choose such a variety if you want to win a yield contest. Other varieties may yield more than others under stressful conditions. I refer to these as “workhorses”. And there are some that tend to do well, regardless of the yield potential – I’ll call these “quarter horses” (quarter horses can run very fast for short distances and you can still ride them long distances over quite rugged terrain).
Last year, we analyzed 5 years of variety test data and classified all varieties that we tested as one of the above. Examples of our results are shown below. The graphs represent the yield of a single variety versus the yield of all varieties tested at that site and year. Each symbol represents a different site-year.
To summarize, the vast majority of varieties are neither racehorses or workhorses; they perform equally in all yield environments. So, averages will work just fine in most cases. But, if you know you have a great- or poor yielding soil or if you are irrigating, then you may want to look into those varieties that fit that situation.