North Dakota State University * Dickinson Research Extension Center
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REPORT OF GRASS AND LEGUME INVESTIGATIONS
1959 CROP SEASON

BY WARREN C. WHITMAN, Botanist

1951 Grass Plots. The 1951 grass plots were not cut this year. Work with these plots has been terminated. Most of the plots have become badly mixed with crested wheatgrass. The Russian wildrye and the green stipagrass plots are an exception to this. Stands of these two grasses are still as good as the stands of crested wheatgrass. Lincoln bromegrass stands also remain in fairly good shape, although crested wheatgrass has infiltrated these stands to some extent.

The usefulness of the plots for comparative purposes is now largely over, and the work with them was terminated at the end of the 1958 season. The results of the studies with these plots are being summarized for publication.

Intermediate - pubescent wheatgrass plots. The 1959 hay yields from the intermediate and pubescent wheatgrass plots seeded in 1954 are given in Table 2. Table 3 gives the average yields of the varieties in this trial over the 5-year period, 1955-59. The 1959 yields given in Table 1 show the composition of the yield in terms of the seeded grass, other grass which invaded the plots, and weeds. These data indicate that there has been some deterioration in stand since 1958, with appreciable invasion of other grass, mainly crested wheatgrass, as well as broadleaved weeds. Up to the time of the 1958 clippings there had been no appreciable stand deterioration in these plots.

The data of Table 1 show that in the dry 1959 season pubescent wheatgrass, Ree wheatgrass (intermediate), and Nebraska 50 (intermediate) actually produced the highest grass yields, although North Dakota pubescent and North Dakota intermediate produced high plot yields. Weeds averaged from one-tenth to one-half the plot yields in the 1959 season.

The average plot production for all varieties in 1959 (Table 2) was 1439 lbs. per acre dry-weight. This is the lowest average yield since 1956. All varieties produced over half a ton, with most varieties producing approximately 3/4 ton per acre. Part of this plot yield was made up of weeds. In general the intermediate wheatgrass strains seem to be more productive than the pubescent wheatgrass strains, as shown by the average yields for the 5-year period. However, in the 1959 season pubescent wheatgrass had the highest yield of seeded grass of any of the strains (Table 1) additional data obtained over the next few years may change the picture in regard to pubescent wheatgrass in this trial. The results from the 1959 clippings show that North Dakota intermediate, M-2-10820 intermediate, and A-12496 intermediate have begun to show considerable stand deterioration.

Uniform Bromegrass Nursery. The hay yields from the 14 strains of bromegrass in the uniform bromegrass nursery are given in Table 3. The period of the trial covers from 1954-59. The plots were accidentally cut in 1956 before yield plots were harvested, so no data are available for that year.

The average yield for all varieties was 1252 lbs. per acre. This is slightly better than the average yield for all varieties of intermediate wheatgrass in the new variety trial of this species (Table 4). The range in yield was from 1452 lbs. per acre for commercial crested to 789 lbs. per acre for Turkish Fairway. Commercial crested, Nordan crested, and commercial Fairway produced about the same yield, the range here being only from 1425 to 1452 lbs. per acre.

The only variety which seemed to show low vigor and general lack of adaptation was Turkish Fairway. As previously indicated, part of the low vigor of the stands of this variety may have been due to poor seed.

New Station Grass and Mixture Trial. Table 6 gives the 1959 yields from the new Station trial seeded in the spring of 1958. A similar trial is being carried on at several of the branch stations and at the main station at Fargo. This trial was seeded on ground which had been in corn for one year followed by a year of fallow. Despite the relatively favorable type of seedbed the stands obtained have not been uniform, and some of the plots are not yet fully established. The generally high yields from this seeding as compared the results obtained from the other new seedings are a reflection of the year of row crop followed by a year of fallow which preceded the seeding.

While the results of the first year's yield harvest do not justify any conclusions, they do not seem to indicate the high vigor of young stands of intermediate wheatgrass. The mixtures of intermediate and alfalfa and intermediate wheatgrass alone are the high-yielding plots in the trial. The data of Table 6 show that alfalfa did not make much direct contribution to the yield of the intermediate-alfalfa plots, and the yield of these mixtures was about the same as the yield of the grass by itself. The production of about 1 tons of hay per acre by the intermediate-alfalfa mixtures and intermediate alone is the highest production obtained from any of the plots in any of the trials during the dry 1959 season.

The average production of all grass and alfalfa mixtures was 2297 lbs. per acre. The average production of all straight grass plots was 2215 lbs. per acre. Thus the overall contribution of alfalfa to increased yields of the mixtures was relatively small in the 1959 season. However, the data do show that alfalfa did make up an appreciable portion of the yields from the mixtures with the various bromes and Russian wildrye.

Alfalfa Yield Plots. The alfalfa plots, including both the series seeded in 1952 and in 1954, winterkilled almost completely during the 1958-59 winter. The only variety which showed substantial survival was Medicago falcata. All plots of this yellow-flowered species showed almost complete survival. It s doubtful whether the cold had much actual effect on the killing of the alfalfa varieties, but the combination of dry soil, scanty snow cover, and deep freezing apparently was too severe even for such well-adapted varieties as Ladak and Cossack.

The alfalfa plots were plowed up in the summer of 1959, and a new trial will be seeded this coming year.

INFLUENCE OF NITROGEN FERTILIZER ON FORAGE PRODUCTION
OF OLD CRESTED WHEATGRASS STANDS

Plots Fertilized Every Year. Hay yields from plots fertilized every year with ammonium nitrate are given in Table 7. This trial was begun in 1955, and five years' data are available. The treatments include check, 25 lbs. nitrogen per acre, 50 lbs., and 100 lbs. In these trials the nitrogen fertilizer has been applied early in the spring.

In the 1959 season additional forage was produced on the fertilized plots, but apparently the 50 lbs. and the 100 lbs. rate were injurious because yields from these plots were lower than from the 25 lb. plots. The dry 1959 season was extremely unfavorable for grass response to fertilizer, and growth on the fertilized plots was very irregular. It should be pointed out that in each of the 5 years of the trial the spring period has been dry, and conditions have not been favorable for securing maximum utilization by the grass of the applied fertilizer nitrogen.

The results to date with these trials indicate that fertilization with 25 lbs. of nitrogen per acre annually would be profitable based on the extra yield of hay and prices of 10 per pound for nitrogen and 1 per pound for hay. The additional increments of nitrogen have been unprofitable, the average production of hay with 50 lbs. of nitrogen actually being less than the production with 25 lbs. the production with 100 lbs. of nitrogen has been only slightly better than production with 25 lbs.

The crude protein content (Nx6.25) of the crested wheatgrass hay samples from the check and fertilized plots is given in Table 8. In Table 9 the production of crude protein from the plots is given in pounds per acre. This evoluation involves both the protein content, as given in Table 8, and the plot production as given in Table 7. The data of Table 8 and Table 9 show that the applications of nitrogen fertilizer produced substantial increases in the protein content of the forage and in protein production per acre. Again the increase in protein obtained with the first 25 lbs. of nitrogen per acre is the most economical response and has resulted in an average increase from 100 lbs. crude protein per acre for the check, to 184 lbs. per acre for the plots receiving 25 lbs. of nitrogen.

Plots Fertilized Every Other Year. The hay yields from the plots fertilized every other year are given in Table 10. Those plots are fertilized in the spring, and the rates of application are the same as for the plots fertilized annually. Fertilizer was applied in the 1957 and in the 1959 seasons. The data obtained so far in this study indicate that there is very little carry-over from the 25 and the 50 lb. rates of fertilization, and only relatively little carry-over from the 100 lb. rate. Additional data will be needed before legitimate comparisons can be made between the practices of fertilizing annually and every other year. The indications so far are that results obtained from fertilizing every other year are not quite as good as the results obtained from fertilizing every year on the basis of the use of equal amounts of nitrogen over a 2-year period.

NITROGEN FERTILIZER ON TAME GRASS COMPARED WITH
GRASS ALONE AND GRASS ALFALFA MIXTURES

Hay clippings were made for the second consecutive year in the new trial to determine the value of three rates of nitrogen fertilization as contrasted to the value of using alfalfa as a source of nitrogen for tame grasses. Pasture-type clippings were made with a rotary lawn mower in this trial for the first time this year. The yields from the hay clippings are given in Table 11 and Table 12, and the pasture clipping yields in Table 13.

In this trial four grasses, Nordan crested wheatgrass, intermediate wheatgrass, Lincoln brome, and Russian wildrye, are grown alone, mixed with Ladak alfalfa, and in plots fertilized with 33 lbs. of nitrogen, 67 lbs., and 100 lbs. of nitrogen per acre. Fertilizer applications were made in the fall of 1958. Fertilizer was not applied in the fall of 1959, but will be applied early in the spring in 1960.

The hay yields from this trial, given in Table 11 show that alfalfa in the mixture resulted in increased yields of all four grasses this year, despite the dry season. With intermediate wheatgrass and Lincoln brome increases in yield obtained with the use of alfalfa in the grass mixture. In the case of Nordan crested and Russian wildrye production with the fertilizer was somewhat better than production with alfalfa. However, even here the 67 lb. rate on Nordan crested produced less than did the grass-alfalfa mixture.

In most cases amounts of nitrogen over 33 lbs. per acre did not produce additional increases in hay yields. Fertilizer applications in excess of 33 lbs. per acre were definitely uneconomical on the basis of increased returns, and it is questionable whether the 33 lb. rate was economical in the 1959 season.

The data on the pasture clippings given in Table 13 are interesting, although, they represent only one year's results. It is apparent that only small increases in yield were obtained with nitrogen fertilizer over the increases obtained with the use of alfalfa in the mixture. All rates of nitrogen fertilizer did increase yields over the check yields, but as in the case of the hay yields the increases were not economical on the basis of yield alone.

The data of Table 11 and Table 13 show that with the exception of Russian wildrye the hay yields of the grasses are substantially greater than are the yields from pasture clippings. With Russian wildrye hay yields are only slightly greater than pasture yields. A larger proportion of the total yield was obtained from the second clipping with Russian wildrye than was the case with the other grasses. With this grass the influence of the fertilizer was to increase the proportion of the yield produced in the first clipping.

SWEETCLOVER YIELD PLOTS

North Central Sweetclover Nursery

Data on the conditions of the sweetclover varieties and the yields from the plots are given in Table 14. In Table 15 the average yields for the period 1954-59 are given. It should be noted that in this latter summary table no data are given for 1956. The 1956 stands (seeded in 1955) were lost, and no yield data are available for that season. The 1959 nursery was seeded on summer fallow in the spring of 1958. Stands were rather thin and development slow. Part of the plots were in unsatisfactory condition in 1959 and were not harvested.

Cutting of the plots in the 1959 season was delayed somewhat in the hope that rain would be received to promote additional growth. Consequently bloom was well advanced for most varieties at the time of cutting. Evergreen, however, was only about 1/4-bloom when cut on July 20 (Table 14). It was necessary to cut this variety at that time in order to prevent excessive leaf loss. Madrid and common yellow were in full bloom when cut on July 1 and averaged about 24" in height. Goldtop was cut on July 9 at 3/4-bloom and averaged 38" in height, which is a height comparable to the heights attained by the white varieties.

As in the past the white varieties in general were higher producing than the yellow varieties. Spanish was the highest yielder, producing 2.06 tons per acre, with Evergreen next at 1.99 tons. The average yield of all varieties, 1.77 tons per acre, was very good considering the dryness of the season. This was the second highest average yield in the period 1954-59 (Table 15).

SUDANGRASS YIELD TRIAL

A small sudangrass yield trial was seeded on June 29, 1959 from seed supplied by Dr. Paul Sandal. The 13 varieties included in the trial were seeded in 20 foot rows spaced 3 feet apart. Three replicates were seeded. The trial was seeded on summer fallow, and the rows were kept clean-cultivated until harvest. The height of the varieties at the time of cutting and the average yield for the three replicates is given in Table 16.

All varieties except sweet sudangrass were cut on August 29, at which time they were mainly fully headed, with many in late anthesis. Sweet sudangrass was not fully headed on August 29, so it was not cut until later. Sweet sudangrass was cut on September 15 when it was in mid-anthesis.

The varieties made an excellent growth during the season, but the late moisture was inadequate to promote maximum production. The average yield of all varieties was 1314 lbs. per acre (oven-dry weight). Piper seemed to be definitely better in over-all production than the other varieties, averaging 1825 lbs. per acre, as against 1493 lbs. for ND 77-11, the next highest producer.

SPRING GRAZING TRIAL

The pastures in the spring grazing trial were grazed for the fifth season this year. Yearling steers were on the pastures from May 8 to June 29, a period of 52 days. This year, as last year, the crested wheatgrass pastures were stocked with 6 steers each, while the crested-alfalfa pastures were stocked with 8 steers each.

Table 17 summarizes the pasture yields and forage utilization on the pastures in the 1959 season. This year Pasture 1 was fertilized with 50 lbs. of nitrogen (150 lbs. 33-0-3) on April 16. The fertilization resulted in increased yield on Pasture 1 as shown in Table 17. On the basis of past yields Pasture 1 would not be likely to yield more than Pasture 3, so that the increase in yield was at least 212 lbs. per acre. Additional animals were not available for use on the pasture, so the additional yield is reflected in the larger amount of forage left on the ground at the end of the grazing period.

The average production of the two crested wheatgrass pastures was 1046 lbs. per acre (dry-weight), and the grazing animals consumed an average of 713 lbs. of forage per acre, leaving on the ground at the end of the grazing period 206 lbs. of material per acre. This consumption represents an average utilization of 68.2 percent. Utilization was noticeably less heavy on Pasture 1 than on Pasture 3.

The production on the crested-alfalfa pastures averaged 1110 lbs. per acre. The animals consumed 870 lbs. of material per acre and left on the ground at the end of the grazing period 240 lbs. per acre. Utilization on these pastures was thus 78.4 percent. The two crested-alfalfa pastures were uniformly heavily grazed.

Considering the averages of both sets of pastures the crested alfalfa pastures produced 6 percent more forage than the crested wheatgrass pastures and carried a 33 percent heavier grazing load. If pasture 3 is considered alone in comparison with the two crested alfalfa pastures, the difference in production is 18 percent. The percentage of alfalfa in the crested-alfalfa pastures is now very low, but the influence of the alfalfa on yield is still apparent.

Table 18 summarizes the yield and forge consumption data for the 5-year period of the study. On the basis of the 5-year averages the crested-alfalfa pastures have produced 29.2 percent more forage than the straight crested wheatgrass pastures, and the yearling steers have consumed 29.6 percent more forage on the crested-alfalfa pastures than on straight crested pastures.

Table 19 summarizes the animal data obtained during the 1959 season in the spring grazing trial. This year the steers on the crested wheatgrass pastures gained an average of 138 lbs. per head during the 52 days on pasture, with an average daily gain per head of 2.64 lbs. The steers on the crested-alfalfa pastures gained an average of 113 lbs. in the 52-day period, with an average daily gain of 2.17 lbs. per head.

The average gains per acre this year were 103.2 lbs. for the crested pastures and 1125 lbs. for the crested-alfalfa pastures. The data given in Table 20 summarizing the results of the 5-year trial show that on the crested wheatgrass pastures the per acre gains were the best next to those of 1957 during the period. However the per acre gains on the crested-alfalfa pastures were the lowest in the past 3 years. The average results for the 5-year period clearly show the superiority of the crested-alfalfa pastures over the straight crested pastures in the production of lbs. of beef per acre. Over the 5-year-period of the trial the crested alfalfa pastures have produced 37.1 percent more beef per acre than the crested pastures.


PERSONAL ACTIVITIES

Correspondence

Radio programs and TV shows

January 8, 1959 Hay yields (recording)
March 19, 1959 Grass seeding (recording)
April 16, 1959 Nitrogen of grass
June 25, 1959 Intermediate wheatgrass
July 23, 1959 Range yields
August 20, 1959 Nitrogen on crested
November 9, 1959 Fertilizing grass
December 10, 1959 Spring grazing trial

March 16, 1959 KDIX with County Agent
July 20, 1959 KDIX with County Agent
Date Meeting Attendance Participation
2/6/59 Veterinarious Short Course 27 1 hr. on Poisonous plants
3/21/59 Sandhills Grazing Ass'n. 75 30 min. on range improvements
6/24/59 Dickinson Crops Field Day 250 Half day of tours
7/7/59 DSTC Conservation Class 40 1 hr. on grassland agriculture
7/10/59 Am. Society of Range Management 45 Results of field studies
7/10/59 N.S.F. Summer Institute Tour 75 1 hr. on grass in N. Dak.
10/30/59 Fertilizer Dealers Conference 130 20 min of grass fertilization
9/12/59 Livestock Research Roundup 1100 15 min. on grasses & fertilizers
Date Meeting Attendance Participation
1/27-30/59 American Society of Range Manage. Tulsa, Oklahoma 530 Attended sessions
2/3-4/59 Soil & Water Cons. seminars, Mandan & Minot 150 30 min. on fertilizing grass
3/3/59 Plant Science Seminar 31 1 hr. on poisonous plants
5/1/59 N. D. Acad. Of Science, Minot 60 15 min. paper on native grass yields
7/30-31/59 American Society of Range Management, Gunnison, Colorado 115 Attended sessions
11/19-20/59 GP-6 Range Research Committee, Denver, Colorado 13 Prepare range research project


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