I’ve been a farmer my whole life. One thing that got beaten into my thought process from a young age was to not fall into the trap of just looking back at the previous crop season and making all my decisions based on what happened last year. Going into the 2022 crop, I’m focusing on the last 4 seasons as I build my corn hybrid program.

Here’s why.

2018 and 2019 on our farm were some of the wettest years we’ve ever seen. With seemingly constant rainfall, we had cool and cloudy days for much of the growing season. Contrast that with 2020 and 2021. It was hot and dry for much of the growing season. Totally different conditions led to plot-winning hybrids from 2018 and 2019 falling to middle or even bottom of the pack in 2020 and 2021.

The obvious question going into 2022’s corn planting time is, “What kind of year will this one be?” I sure do wish I knew that answer. More specifically, I wish I knew exactly where the commodity prices would land, just once . . . but I digress. If I knew it would be another hot and dry year with a late fall frost, I’d plant late-day hybrids that could handle the heat. There’s no way of knowing how it’s going to go. So here’s the strategy that’s totally free, guaranteed to take away much of your worry, and proven to be successful on average… planting multiple hybrids.

Let’s say you have 500 acres of corn and your normal corn maturity range is 92-day up to 100-day. Here’s my strategy.

■ Plant 5 hybrids with roughly 100 acres of each. Use 92, 94, 96, 98, and 100-day as the targets for the five hybrids. If you plant the 100-day hybrid first and the 92-day hybrid two or three weeks later, chances are all the fields will mature at about the same time, so you may want to mix it up a bit.

■ Populations should vary, as well. I saw far too many farmers this year using one planting population for the whole farm. Unfortunately, it too often was a very high population that may have worked well in 2018 and 2019 but led to stalk quality issues and more crop stress in 2021. Mix it up a little bit either with variable rate populations throughout your fields or even just by picking a low and high population and planting parts of the field to each. Again, you never know how the weather will play out, so you are spreading your risk by doing this.