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Meet Pioneer’s superfast P1197 hybrid for a super yield

This post is also available in: Afrikaans

by AJ Steyn, field agronomist, Pioneer SA

Pioneer listen to what the farmers say and one of the clear messages they get, is that farmers want to increase their yield but, at the same time, lower their risk by planting quick-growing maize.

The ultra-fast yellow irrigation hybrid, P1197YHR, as well as its P1197R variant, and the conventional sibling, P1197, were planted in South Africa for the first time in the past season after impressive results had been posted in American yield competitions with up to 33 tons/ha. However, experience has shown that cultivars from elsewhere do not always reach the same heights in the RSA because of geographic preferences for soil type and climate conditions.

But when harvesting time came there was a huge surprise with the cultivar faring exceptionally well in comparison with proven cultivars in South Africa. It was also planted rather extensively in irrigation regions and provided consistent results under a wide range of soil types.

Plant stand and plant size

Because the cultivar is regarded as an ultra-quick grower, it was planted at between 90 000 en 100 000 plants per hectare. Locally the cultivar performs extremely well under irrigation; also at this high plant density. Plants/ha will be investigated more intensively in the coming season. Plants are of medium size and the cob per plant relation is ± 40%. However, toward the season end plants dry off fast and then become smaller. This is when the quick characteristic of the variety comes into its own.

The dried-off plants are relatively small and lose plenty plant material above the husks towards harvest time. Consequently it is necessary to harvest the cultivar timeously to avoid it becoming too dry, degenerate and eventually lose heads. As the general row width under irrigation is 0,75 m, a stand of 95 000 will be ideal. With row widths of 0,91 m 90 000 plants per hectare can be tilled. Under full irrigation the stand should not be lower than 90 000; if not, the yield can be lower because of less compensation in head size in the P1197 platform compared with other cultivars such as 31D22YR.

Figure 1: Average yields in the 2018/19 season are indicated in the white square above the histogram in ton/ha. The orange square shows the number of trials and the yellow square the average moisture content at harvesting.

Yield potential

During the 2018/19 season P1197YHR was included in a reasonable number of experimental plots in the Northern Cape irrigation region. The yield data confirmed its performance as the cultivar won almost all the experiments or performed very close to the winning cultivar (See Figure 1).


The P1197 platform has a very good staygreen characteristic, ensuring that the photosynthate is channelled to the pips for a longer period. The hybrid has to be managed, for example, by controlling red spider mite as effectively as possible to promote the full yield potential of the plants.

Stem strength

Cultivar characteristics are adjudicated on a scale of 1 to 9, where 1 equals weak or low and 9 good or plenty. For stem strength, as well as for standing ability, 8 is given, which makes it two very positive characteristics for an irrigation hybrid. As already mentioned, the head is not carried too high, which results in a much smaller risk of falling over.


In comparison with the present irrigation cultivars the P1197YHR dries off surprisingly quickly. It was adjudicated an 8-figure, which makes the cultivar especially suitable for planting in the wake of a wheat crop. It is 0,6% dryer during harvesting (over 10 comparisons) compared with P1184YR, which was the quickest yellow cultivar so far in the Pioneer range.

Disease package

Because this is a typical fast hybrid for the mealie belt, it will have to be sprayed preventatively in high disease-prone areas against leaf diseases. As expected, it was adjudicated a 5 figure for northern leaf blight, 3 for grey leaf spot, and 5 for brown smut. The tolerance of the cultivar for ear and plume smut is acceptable.

Grain quality

The P1197-platform produce a very attractive grain and a kernel weight that complements a high yield. Grain quality was excellent in all experimental plots.


P1197-platform is ’n management hybrid that can give a farmer an excellent yield. When there is a limiting factor, such as a lack of enough water, or cation imbalance in the soil, it is possibly not the correct hybrid that you should plant.

The hybrid will fulfil its rightful place in precision farming and, if the limiting factors are rectified, its yield will not disappoint.

For more information, contact 012-683-5721 or

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