DREC agronomy tour offers crop insight
Beth Wischmeyer - The Dickinson Press

DICKINSON - Last month’s Dickinson Research Extension Center (DREC) Field Day provided visitors with a glimpse of crops being developed and tested against various crop hazards, including drought and insects.

The field day was held on July 9 at the Dickinson Research Extension Center headquarters in Dickinson.

Introducing each speaker was associate agronomist Pat Carr, who spoke of what the changes in cost of things like fertilizer are doing to the crop grower. function photo.

“Not too many years ago, anhydrous ammonia was selling for 12 cents a pound and urea was probably 20 cents a pound,” Carr said. “It’s not that way anymore. Nitrogen presently is actually costing more like 70 cents a pound, so a huge increase. Those that aren’t involved in agriculture, like us, don’t realize some of the tremendous increases in cost we have experienced recently.”

Carr also said a lack of rain has caused some difficulty in growing crops in the test plots.

“It’s really been a difficult growing season agronomically between the very dry conditions and the very cold weather,” Carr said. “This year we waited and waited and waited for some of the early summer weeds to emerge, and we’d still be waiting in some cases.”

The tour began with a presentation by Carr in the durum section, who noted that yields may not be as good due to the lack of moisture.

“The durum drill strips should look a lot better,” Carr said.

Dr. Mohamed Mergoum, part of NDSU’s plant sciences program, gave a presentation on the varieties of spring wheat growing in the test plots, as well as the time it takes to develop a variety of wheat.

“It takes more than 10 years to cross, to get a variety of wheat,” Mergoum said. “It’s a long-term process.”

During the presentation, Mergoum pointed out the different varieties of wheat and their benefits.

“Steele,” Mergoum pointed out, has excellent heat protection, with “Faller” being the highest yield variety released thus far by NDSU

Mergoum also addressed the issue of the possibility of a variety of wheat resistant to Ug-99.

Ug-99 is a form of black stem rust that prevents wheat taking up nutrients.

“We have resistance already in older varieties,” Mergoum said. “We don’t have it (UG-99) here yet, and maybe we won’t have it because our conditions are not similar.”

In discussing spring wheat, NDSU plant specialist Bill Berzonksy discussed the fact that more than 50 percent of white wheat is shipped overseas.

“It’s popular especially in the Asian markets because of the noodles and such,” Berzonsky said.

Berzonsky also discussed making wheat sawfly resistant.

“When we talk about making sawfly-resistant wheat we want to have a solid stem,” Berzonsky said. “The stems in the fly-resistant wheat are basically solid and don’t look like a straw.”

Extension plant pathologist Mike McMullen also gave a presentation on variety trials of oats.

“We want to identify lines that do well in the good years as well as in the bad years,” McMullen said. “We do look for stability. That’s one of the reasons we conduct the variety trials over a period of years. Before a variety is released, hopefully we’ll find the problems first before we put it in your hand so you don’t have to suffer the problem.”

Two new varieties released recently, “Souris” and “Stallion,” were discussed by McMullen.

“Both of these in the trials we’ve had them in have been very stable yield performance,” McMullen said.

“Stallion’ is probably adapted to the western part of the state than it is the East,” McMullen said. “It’s probably one you are going to want to watch for in the state.”

“Souris” has had six years of information in variety trials, McMullen said, and has been a very stable performer in all conditions and in all areas.

Another valuable oat performer has been the variety “Hi-Fi”.

“‘Hi-Fi’ is about 30 percent higher in soluble fiber than the varieties that are currently being used,” McMullen said. “It’s getting some attention from the milling industry because of its high soluble fiber. If the millers are willing to pay more for high soluble fiber, then it’s our hope that some of that will come back to area farmers.”

Barley growing Rich Horsley also presented information on barley, stating that the lack of rain could actually provide helpful information in trials.

“For barley trials for us this year, we’re going to get very good data,” Horsley said.

Horsley added that many brewing companies are looking at “Pinnacle” for doing malting and brewing tests.

“Miller brewing is looking at Pinnacle and evaluating it,” Horsley said.

The soonest Pinnacle available to brewing companies would be 2010, Horsley said.

For more information on the agronomy tour and the DREC test plots, visit www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/dickinson/, or call 701-483-2348.