FIRST Newsletter | December 2022

30-Dec-2022 | Issue 23 | www.firstseedtests.com

In This Issue

  • 2022 Harvest Review
  • UAV Stand Counts in 2022 tests
  • Top 2022 Corn and Soybean Performances
  • 2023 Trials Introduction

2022 Harvest Review

FIRST's 2022 harvest season was swift and forgiving in terms of weather. More than half of the trial locations were reported by mid-October (see nearby graph). Corn yields were excellent in Illinois and Ohio, and some farms in Missouri saw record yields.


The drought took a bite out of yields in the west and north. Iowa broadly experienced drought conditions, but timely rains arrived at several FIRST plots to deliver good yields in those locations.

2022 FIRST reports published chart

Above. 2022 Harvest Report publishing, number of reports per week of the season.

2022 FIRST season yield average illustration

Interactive Maps of 2022 Season Yield Averages

We have summarized some of the top individual seed product performances for 2022 below (see 2021 results). The lists are organized by crop and maturity.


With the New Year, FIRST is gearing up for 2023 FIRST trials. Contact our team about how to participate (more below) or reach out to your seed company representative about products you would like to see in the 2023 FIRST program. Entry applications are available at the beginning of January.

2022 Performance Summary Reports Available

Go to Summary Reports Page
2022 Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan Performance Summary

FIRST Managers measure stand counts using UAV imagery

Rozenboom DJI Drone

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in agriculture has exploded recently, including their use in farming operations for scouting crops and making various aerial applications. Additional opportunities exist for their use in field research. Image analysis software allows photos and video taken by UAVs to be converted into usable agronomic metrics. Plant stand counts are a proven and widely accepted field measurement derived from aerial imagery.


FIRST has been considering UAV-based measures for several years. In 2022, two field managers, Corey Rozenboom and Bill Schelp, implemented the technology to report stand counts in the northern Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri FIRST trials, respectively. We talked with Anthony Myers, research agronomist with the North Iowa FIRST team, about the UAV techniques they used this year.


The North Iowa FIRST team flew a DJI Phantom 4 PRO drone with a multispectral camera (RGB plus additional wavebands) mounted on it. Pix4D software provided guidance and automated flights for image capture and stitching. After that, they used Plot Phenix software for analysis to obtain final stand counts on a per plot basis. 


Myers said that, "a clear sky and full sun were perfect for the drone, but challenging for image adjustments." For stand counts, the UAV was flown at low altitude. Imagery problems were noted during a few flights but were obvious for them to correct. Reflectance from no-till residue was one of the biggest challenges. Timing was also important. Getting around to trial locations spread out in FIRST regions at the early growth stages needed for ideal stand count images required two members of the North Iowa FIRST research staff to be on the road, each flying drones during days when conditions were good.


Myers and the team hand-counted several ranges while the drone was flying, and theirs matched the machine-vision count within a few plants. Overall, both Rozenboom and Schelp's research teams were happy with the stand counts, and were able to integrate those measures into FIRST's trial data acquisition system easily. Other research measures like vigor and canopy closure are possible with the UAV system. Look for machine measurements to increase as additional metrics are available, and reduced costs for hardware and software allow further adoption.

Below: Multi-spectral image analysis of corn plants in a single plot of North Iowa FIRST trials in 2022. UAV machine plant counts were used for reported stands in select 2022 Harvest Reports. Photo courtesy of North Iowa FIRST.

Rozenboom - single plot UAV image

Top Performances in 2022 FIRST Trials

Congratulations to these participants that recorded top performances in the 2022 FIRST independent yield trials. Products entered in a minimum of 3 regions, with 5 or 6 locations each for corn grain and 4 locations for soybeans were included in the analysis. Maturity ranges are listed in the heading of each table. The results are compiled from trials across all FIRST testing regions. You can click on the tables to go to listings that include Product Report links for each seed product.


More about the top performance calculations:

  • Avg. Yield -- grain yield, adjusted to standard grain moisture. Average of all locations in which the product was tested in 2022.
  • Avg. Yield Advantage - comparing product yield to test average yield.

2022 Corn Grain Top 30 Performances

2022 FIRST Top 30 Corn Grain Performances

2022 Soybean Top Performances

2022 FIRST Top Soybean Performances
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2023 FIRST Trials Introduction

FIRST's 2023 trials are getting organized with a few changes for the coming season. Manager Luke Brendemuhl, who has managed the Red River Valley (ND & MN) regions for 6 years is stepping away from FIRST testing. We wish him all the best and many thanks for his hard work. Red River Valley tests will not be offered in 2023, but we hope they will resume in the future.


There will be two NEW tests in 2023:

  • An ultra-early corn grain test with a maturity range of 88-92 RM in Minnesota North Central (MNNC) region.
  • An additional special conventional and food-grade soybean test is planned for Minnesota Central region (MNCECV), with two locations in MNCE and two in MNSC.


Trial applications will be available in early January. Those attending the 2023 IPSA meeting next month can visit with FIRST team members to learn the latest news in the program.

Contact FIRST

Visit with FIRST at the 2023 IPSA meeting.

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FIRST In The News

Healthy corn crop limited by drought in some locations

While drought headlined the season in many Midwestern areas, that meant disease wasn't nearly as prevalent around the region. When examining the Farmers' Independent Research of Seed Technologies (FIRST) corn yield results in 2022, field managers said this was one of the better years they've seen in quite a while in terms of management and disease impact.

Read More

FIRST Test Plots Give Up-Close Look at How Latest Seed Offerings Perform on Your Farm

With the exception of seed, all inputs for the plot are supplied by the host, who agrees to share input and management details with FIRST. The field manager both plants and harvests the plot, coordinating with the host at season's end for hauling out the grain, which the host keeps.

Read More

Soybeans endure for good yields in 2022

Weather varied across the Midwest this year, and that was the theme for most soybean yields - variability. It wasn't uncommon to hear stories of vastly different yields from fields only miles apart, and the same was true in this year's Farmers' Independent Research of Seed Technologies (FIRST) yield results.

Read More

Like the Rain, Silage Season Off to a Sporadic Start

While some areas have had adequate precipitation, there are plenty of places that remain abnormally dry. As a result, the corn crop is drying down incredibly fast, but while the moisture level in the plants drops, the grain hasn't caught up.

Read More
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Unbiased, Accurate Yield Testing. Every Time.

We welcome your feedback or questions about the FIRST program! 

Please contact us at info@firstseedtests.com

Farmers' Independent Research of Seed Technologies (FIRST) www.firstseedtests.com

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