Third-party testing through WEGrow Trials validates the performance of INTEGRA corn and soybean genetics

April 09, 2024

Third-party testing through WEGrow Trials validates the performance of INTEGRA corn and soybean genetics

“The seed decision is the number one factor that’s most likely to dictate a grower’s income,” said BJ Schaben, national seed director, Wilbur-Ellis.

That’s why Wilbur-Ellis leaves nothing to chance when selecting INTEGRA Fortified Seed corn hybrids and soybean varieties to offer growers across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin and the Dakotas.

The company carefully curates genetics to match local and regional variation in soils, climate, weed, pest and disease challenges and end-user needs. Then each product is evaluated through the WEGrow Trials which are designed and conducted by independent, third-party research organizations to ensure consistent, unbiased and accurate data about the characteristics and performance of each product. 

“Wilbur-Ellis works with six independent research organizations to rigorously ground-prove each corn hybrid and soybean variety. Then, after one to three years of testing, we select and offer only the genetics that produce at least 3-5 bushels/acre more than our current genetics,” Schaben added. “A key benefit of the independent research is validation of the data; there is no way to skew it.”

Seed products agronomist Mark Menke says the INTEGRA Fortified Seed line combines the most advanced traits with locally selected genetics to ensure customized solutions for corn and soybean growers. Menke and Schaben encourage growers to view the yield data they supply to see how INTEGRA seeds compare to other popular products in their area.

“We have over 65 corn trials and 38 soybean trials across diverse regions with diverse needs. And we take the time to select genetics and the right yield-protecting traits, so growers can be sure they’re getting tailored seed solutions that address hyper-local issues and deliver excellent yield performance,” said Menke. 

Third-party research partners boost scalability and data power.

As an independent organization, Wilbur-Ellis has the freedom to test and select products from multiple sources to provide growers with choices. 

“Our local agronomic experts help us choose products to address local conditions while our research partners help scale the trials across the region,” said Menke.

“All brands and trait combinations are compared together in the same field environments to provide the best product for each grower’s acre,” Menke added. “And with the backing of independent researchers, we can compare 30 to 40 products in one field instead of maybe ten.” 

Following trial completion each fall, the INTEGRA Agronomy Team decides which products to sell. Then Wilbur-Ellis field representatives continue fine-tuning product placement to fit growers’ fields through local strip trials. 

Tar spot rating is new, while yield is the major driver for the WEGrow Trials.

The number one benchmark the hybrids and varieties must deliver is superior yield, said Menke. So, all INTEGRA Corn hybrids are evaluated on agronomics that drive yield and harvestability including staygreen, greensnap, stalk quality, roots, early vigor, drought tolerance and test weight. The agronomy team then walks the trials in the fall to visually check for differences in plant health and any watchouts that may affect harvestability.

INTEGRA Agronomy Team members get a first-hand look at the newest products at a WEGROW Trial near Deerfield, Michigan. 

In 2022, the company also became one of the first to develop a rating system for tolerance to tar spot disease infestation in corn hybrids to help prevent significant yield loss from the fungal disease.

“With the increasing concern for and spread of tar spot, we’re now testing our corn hybrids for tar spot tolerance,” Schaben said. “In addition, we’re evaluating performance with and without a fungicide treatment made at different points throughout the season to determine the most beneficial time to apply fungicide to protect against tar spot.”

Yield and standability are top soybean selection criteria.

INTEGRA Soybeans are primarily evaluated on yield and standability. 

“It’s very important to know whether to plant a taller or bushier variety for tough soils, where getting growth can be a challenge,” said Menke. “For example, we may recommend a more medium-statured variety for highly productive and irrigated soils, where a soybean plant can get too tall and go down before harvest. “We also don’t want to see green stems when the pods or grain are dry since that makes harvest difficult and contributes to grain loss.”

Growers looking for silage hybrids with strong nutritional traits can choose from hybrids selected, tested and benchmarked with the same attention to detail.

Soybean varieties are tested in nearly 40 soybean trials across diverse regions with diverse needs.

Seed treatment testing helps growers achieve their ultimate yield goals. 

As part of the WEGrow Trials, seed treatments are selectively combined, tested and offered to protect the seed and deliver faster, more uniform emergence, vigorous early growth and strong root development. INTEGRA also offers a proprietary seed treatment that gives planted acres a strong start.

“Getting an excellent stand of corn or soybeans is one of our top goals toward achieving high yields,” said Menke. “We’ve tested our STEPUP® SP and STEPUP® ZN seed treatments on corn against other formulations to prove their yield and agronomic benefits. In 2022 trials, these seed treatments showed faster, more uniform emergence across the entire Corn Belt and beyond.” Root digs in the Western Corn Belt also showed plants with greater root mass and root hairs compared to the untreated checks. 

The team works with multiple manufacturers, offering products like the Acceleron® line of seed treatments and Poncho® Votivo® seed treatment to protect corn against nematodes. 

Winning trial results translate to success on the farm.

Genetics that deliver superior performance in the trials are then compared on farm by Wilbur-Ellis field reps and growers to fine-tune product placement for each field. 

“We’re seeing proof our hybrids and varieties are delivering excellent performance both through the evaluation of the third-party research organizations, and most importantly, in our grower partners’ fields. “We’re excited. INTEGRA seed sales are growing, and the team is working hard to continue advancing new 

choices with even better agronomics and yield potential,” Menke concluded.

Search here or check our seed guide for the hybrids and varieties for your area or visit your local Wilbur-Ellis retail location to learn more.