FIRST Adds Weather Info in 25th Year of Seed Trials

FIRST Program Corn Grain Yield History, including record high 2021 yield.

FIRST Program Soybean Yield History, including record high 2021 yield.

Example of FIRST’s new detailed location weather summary included in 2021 reports.

(December 15, 2021) - The community that follows FIRST trials sent a clear signal in a recent survey about what they need to put yield results in context: local weather information.

There are many factors that influence the performance of corn and soybean products, but nothing compares to the effects of rainfall and heat the crop receives.

New in the 2021 Top 30 Harvest Reports, FIRST provides the location weather profile, including precipitation, temperatures, and GDUs compared to 10-year averages and estimated pollination and maturity dates for corn.

The weather data is based on the highly respected PRISM dataset, which is publicly available observed weather provided by Oregon State University with the support of USDA-RMA.

“The weather summary from the location site this year is a great addition,” farmer Jim Grommes told FIRST.

A seed company agronomist said, “I like how you have the monthly normal and differences with precipitation and GDUs – it really helps pull in perspective on the sites.”

The weather profile complements detailed field research that FIRST managers organize in cooperation with host farmers. The trial results assemble yield, moisture, lodging, and stand data collected for 3 or 4 replicated, randomized plots per product at each location. That’s over 500 strip plots at some test sites.

The FIRST program is celebrating its 25th year of operations in 2021. FIRST provides a fair and objective platform under a uniform testing standard to compare seed productivity in a multitude of soil and growing conditions across 16 states.

This year, over 2,000 seed products from over 70 seed companies were tested across 68 distinct growing regions. A total of 555 replicated tests were conducted on over 300 farms, so that producers and ag professionals can better match seed performance with particular growing conditions.

More tools to gather information for making better seed decisions are on FIRST’s website. The Seed Product Search feature has become a popular way to find the complete trial results for individual seed products.

Each product’s report page gives a handy overall summary in terms of how many times the product has been in a FIRST Top 30. All results for the product are provided, including all years and all geographies in which it was tested. The trial locations and yields are mapped and listed along with key agronomic data like soil texture and planting date. You can try this feature at

The 2021 season had record high yield averages for the corn grain and soybean programs - nearby graphs show 2021 yields in FIRST’s 25-year yield history.

This year’s strong yields were surprising for FIRST host farmers in areas that experienced drought, like the Dakotas, and fungal disease pressure in wetter areas. Seed products that performed consistently across multiple locations appear in Performance Summary reports compiled at season end (see

Overall outstanding trial entrants are highlighted in the Top 30 Corn Grain and Soybean Performances linked below. Products listed had the highest average yield advantage when grown in the same fields as similar maturity hybrids or varieties.

Further details about FIRST’s methodology, reports, and program are available at


First 2021 Season Top 30 Performances - Corn

First 2021 Season Top 30 Performances - Soybeans

FIRST harvest at Novelty, MO. (Photo courtesy of Bill Schelp)

FIRST 2021 Fairmount, ND harvest.

2021 FIRST Managers group meeting at Okoboji, IA.

FIRST 2021 Iowa.

FIRST 2021 Novelty, MO harvest. (Photo courtesy of Bill Schelp)