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FIRST Newsletter | January 2024

07-Jan-2024 | Issue 29 |

In This Issue

  • 2023 Harvest Review
  • 2024 Trials Introduction and Program Updates
  • Meet NEW FIRST managers Melissa Nelson and Nick Hoffman
  • Top Corn and Soybean Performances in 2023


FIRST's 2023 harvest season went fairly quickly this year. Across the whole program, there were many surprises in terms of recovery from very dry conditions at the start of the season. See FIRST News for great wrap-up articles by AgUpdate about the Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri trials. We are grateful for all publishing partners that print FIRST reports for their readers, including Michigan Farm Bureau news in 2023.

The program's average yields ended up being near all-time highs for both crops. The interactive graph (click to view) nearby shows location yields over FIRST trials history. The yearly average is shown on each box plot as a dashed line -- this is an average of plot yields rather than all observations in the year. Corn continues its rising trend, while soybeans have a slower rate of yield increase in these data.

Rather than summarize the top individual seed product performances for 2023 (see 2022 results for corn and soybeans), we invite you to use the updated Product results pages at (see below)

Go to FIRST In The News
FIRST Corn Products Results

Above. View 2023 Top Performing hybrids and varieties by visiting

FIRST is gearing up for the 2024 program, and applications to participate are available now. Seed companies can contact a FIRST Manager about how to participate or reach out to your seed company representative about products you would like to see in 2024 FIRST trials.

FIRST Yield History Interactive

INTERACTIVE 2024 FIRST Testing Yield History

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2023 Performance Summary Reports Available

Go to Summary Reports Page
2023 FIRST Performance Summary Booklet

2024 FIRST Trials Introduction

The FIRST program has several changes and new personnel to introduce. After 25+ years of operating independent variety trials, it’s expected that we will say goodbye to valuable colleagues, and look forward to opportunities with new people. For new trial managers in the program, guidance from experienced managers will allow FIRST to continue and grow the program’s trusted yield testing with the farming community and seed industry.

Long-time manager in the Mid-Atlantic, Rob Kauffman is retiring from FIRST. We thank him for many years of excellent service and wish him all the best. The Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic trials are not continuing in the FIRST program.

REGION UPDATES Minnesota and North Dakota Red River Valley regions return for 2024 with Mark Querna operating. Several new managers have taken the reins of current FIRST regions. Nick Hoffman (more below) is a corn breeder and researcher and will be managing Nebraska Northeast and Iowa Northwest in 2024. He is mentored by Corey Rozenboom in 2023 and 2024. New managers for the South Dakota regions, Matt Eich of Centrol Crop Consulting and Payden Peterson of Peterson Seed Testing are experienced field researchers and will be mentored by Mark Tollefson. Melissa Nelson (below) is joining FIRST to operate two NEW corn and soybean regions in Kansas with mentorship from Adam Stuteville.

FIRST Manager Melissa Nelson

Melissa Baldwin, PCR

Meet Melissa Nelson operating NEW Kansas FIRST trials

FIRST welcomes Melissa Nelson to the program, operating two new corn and soybean regions in Kansas. She owns Performance Crop Research in Great Bend, KS, and has been involved with field research for over 10 years. The new regions will be all-irrigated locations in northwest and central Kansas including PCR's research farm in Geary County, KS,

Apart from Nelson's field research, she and her family run an industrial hemp production and processing business. They were recently honored by the Kansas Farm Bureau as a 2023 Kansas Farm Family of the Year. She is Vice President of the Barton County Farm Bureau Chapter.

Reach out to Nelson with questions or about volunteering to host a FIRST plot at [email protected].

Meet Nick Hoffman, Nebraska and Iowa FIRST Manager

Nick Hoffman has joined FIRST as the Manager of Nebraska Northeast and Iowa Northwest regions, after handling the Nebraska Northeast region testing under the direction of Corey Rozenboom in 2023.

Hoffman is based in Clearwater, NE, and owns Apex Custom Research Enterprises (ACRE). He has worked as a popcorn breeder beginning as a youth with his father for the American Pop Corn Co (aka Jollytime), and served as research director of Zangger Popcorn Hybrids.

While continuing to pursue corn breeding, Hoffman is interested in new technologies and data analytics to advance agricultural research. He and his family also run Lazy Horseshoe Ranch, a cow/calf operation. Contact Hoffman at [email protected].

FIRST Manager Nick Hoffman

Nick Hoffman, ACRE

2024 FIRST Corn Grain Testing Regions

2024 FIRST Corn Grain Testing Regions

2024 FIRST Soybean Testing Regions

2024 FIRST Soybean Testing Regions

Visit with FIRST at the 2024 IPSA Meeting January 16-17

Booth 37


Top Performances in 2023 FIRST Trials

We invite you to view the 2023 Top Performers on the redesigned Product pages for corn and soybeans.

The results use a device or user-selected location to tailor results to those hybrids and varieties tested nearby.

  • The default distance is 150 miles from the current location.
  • Change distance and location in the dark gray section of the page.
  • Product cards are sorted in Performance order: those with the highest percentage of Top 30 Harvest Report finishes are listed first.
  • Use the filters to narrow your search by maturity range, traits, brands, and other factors.

Try the search results BELOW to view 2023 TOP PERFORMERS. Keep in mind that some maturity products may not be tested in your area -- if no results are displayed, change the maturity range or the location to see more.

FIRST Corn Products Results

Corn Grain 100 - 104 RM hybrids with at least 25 trials

FIRST Soybean Products Results

Soybeans 2.0 - 2.4 MG varieties tested in Iowa and Minnesota

Feel free to share the filtered results pages, individual product Report pages, and more. FIRST provides these tools to make it easier to use the trial results for seed decisions. These are NEW web pages, so feel free to let us know if you see any bugs or would like to see other information. Email us at [email protected].

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Unbiased, Accurate Yield Testing. Every Time.

We welcome your feedback or questions about the FIRST program! 

Please contact us at [email protected]

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