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Alternative Crops and Cropping Systems in Southwestern North Dakota

Patrick M. Carr, Associate Agronomist

Portions of this material is based upon work supported by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Agreement No. 96-34216-2539.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Abstract

Crop production systems in southwestern North Dakota are dominated by cereals. Production of these crops for grain has been plagued by pests and other problems. The development of alternative production methods, and the production of other grain and seed crops, is needed to improve cropping systems. The objectives of this research were: (1) to determine if peas and other annual crops and/or crop combinations can be grown successfully for forage compared with oats; (2) identify pulse crops that are adapted to growing conditions in southwestern North Dakota, and management practices that optimize pulse crop production; and (3) identify oilseed crops that can be grown profitably in southwestern North Dakota. To do this, several experiments were conducted, each having a randomized complete block design with four replications. Results of these experiments showed a general trend for annual legumes to produce less forage than cereals in side-by-side comparisons (P < .05. The crude protein (CP) concentration of legume forage generally was higher than that of cereal forage. In-row applications of N and P fertilizer did not enhance pea seed yield or quality, nor did seeding rates > 300 000 pure live seed (PLS)/acre). Seed yield averaged 791 lb/acre for six mustard, 1610 lb/acre for nine safflower cultivars, and 25 bu/acre for five flax cultivars in 1998. Gross returns averaged $106.74/acre, $193.18/acre, and $116.37 for mustard, safflower, and flax, respectively. By comparison, gross returns averaged $156.09/acre for hard red spring wheat. These data suggest that economic returns generated by safflower compared favorably to those generated by wheat in 1998.

Introduction

Cereals are the most widely grown, cultivated crops in the northern Great Plains. These crops are well adapted to the cool semiarid climate of the region. However, economic projections suggest that alternatives to cereal crops must be grown, or new markets developed, for crop production systems to be viable across the northern Great Plains in the future. Diversifying cropping systems is a greater challenge in southwestern North Dakota compared with most other regions of the state, since fewer crops traditionally have been grown in the southwest region (Ball, 1987).

The objectives of this project were to:

  1. Identify corn hybrids that are superior for forage and grain yield.

  2. Determine if peas and other annual crops or crop combinations are superior to oat for forage.

  3. Identify commercially available lentil and pea cultivars that are adapted to growing conditions in southwestern North Dakota, and determine optimum production practices for growing pulse crops.

  4. Identify oilseed crops that are adapted to growing conditions in southwestern North Dakota.

Materials and Methods

All experiments except the flax adaptation experiment were located at Dickinson. Plots in all experiments were arranged in a randomized complete block with blocks replicated four times. Cultural practices including tillage and seeding, fertilization, and herbicide application followed currently acceptable agronomic procedure in all experiments. Data were analyzed by ANOVA using SAS (SAS Inst., 1985). Where F tests showed significant differences (P < 0.05) among treatments, means were separated using Fischer's protected LSD.

Objective 1

Corn
Twelve corn cultivars were compared for forage moisture content and yield, grain yield, and grain test weight.

Objective 2

Cool-season, annual forages
Barley, oat, triticale, Indianhead lentil, Trapper pea, and selected combinations were compared for forage moisture content, yield, crude protein (CP) concentration, acid- and neutral-detergent fiber concentration (ADF and NDF, respectively). Cereal plants were harvested at the milky to early soft dough stage of kernel development. Pea and lentil were harvested during flowering, soon after the first pods had formed. Cereal-pea combinations were harvested when the cereal component was at the milky to early soft dough stage of kernel development.

Varying harvest dates for barley, oat, pea, lentil, and selected cereal-pea combinations
This experiment is discussed elsewhere in the annual report (see article by Patrick M. Carr and Woodrow (Chip) W. Poland entitled Integrating Crop and Livestock Systems with Pulses and Cereal-Pea Intercrops.)

Objective 3

Pea and Lentil production for forage and seed
Pea and Lentil experiments are discussed elsewhere in the annual report (see article by Patrick M. Carr and Woodrow (Chip) W. Poland entitled Integrating Crop and Livestock Systems with Pulses and Cereal-Pea Intercrops.)

Fertilizing peas for seed production
The effect of different, in-row N and P fertilizer treatments with Carneval peas at planting were compared. In-row fertilizer treatments included: 6, 12, and 18 lb/acre urea (46-0-0); 25, 50, and 75 lb/acre MAP (11-52-0); and 30, 60, and 90 lb/acre TSP (0-45-0). Data collected in each plot included pea plant population, grain yield, and test weight.

Seeding rate comparisons for maximum pea seed yield
Five seeding rates (200 000, 250 000, 300 000, 350 000, and 400 000 PLS/acre) were compared. Data collected included pea plant population, grain yield, test weight, and seed weight.

Objective 4

Mustard
Days to flowering, flower duration, plant height, seed yield, bushel test weight, and seed weight were compared among six mustard cultivars.

Safflower
Days to flowering, plant height, seed yield, seed oil concentration, bushel test weight, and seed weight were compared among nine safflower cultivars.

Flax
Plant height, seed yield, bushel test weight, and seed weight were compared among five flax cultivars at Beulah, Glen Ullin, and Hannover, ND.

Results and Discussion

Objective 1

Corn
Average silage yield was 4.1 tons of dry matter (DM)/acre for the 12 cultivars evaluated at Dickinson in 1998 (Table 1). Silage yield ranged from 3.4 tons DM/acre for the 80-d cultivar Proseed 180 to 4.7 tons DM/acre for the 88-d cultivar Dekalb DK-385 B. The 108-d, high-sugar, silage cultivar Cargill HS60A produced less forage than Dekalb DK-385 B. Forage quality may have been superior for the Cargill HS60A cultivar compared with the Dekalb DK-385 B cultivar; however, forage quality was not determined in this experiment.

Silage was harvested at an average moisture content of 65.8% (Table 1). Corn should be harvested for silage at a moisture content of 63% to 70%.

Grain yield averaged 59 bu/acre for the 12 cultivars (Table 1). Bird feeding damage reduced yield by an estimated 27%. These estimates suggest that grain yield averaged 81 bu/acre for the corn cultivars. Differences in grain yield were not detected among the cultivars because of the confounding effects of bird feeding prior to grain harvest.

Bushel test weight averaged 55.8 lb/bu for the 12 cultivars (Table 1). Heaviest test weights were produced by the following cultivars: 88-d Dekalb DK-385 B, 84-d Cropland max 40, 78-d Cropland 154, and 80-d Proseed 180.

Objective 2

Cool-season annual forages
Forage yield among the 12 cereal and legume treatments averaged 2.9 tons DM/acre in 1998 (Table 2). Haybet barley produced more forage than Paul oat, Trapper pea, and Indianhead lentil. Similar amounts of forage were produced by Haybet and Stark barley, 2700 triticale, Whitestone oats, and cereal-pea combinations.

Yield was unaffected by intercropping cereal with pea crops compared with cereal sole crops (Table 2). Conversely, forage yield was increased by intercropping pea with 2700 triticale or Whitestone oat compared with sole pea. Intercropping pea with Paul oat did not increase forage yield compared with the sole pea treatment.

Forage was harvested at a moisture content ranging from 64% for barley cultivars to 75% for pea and lentil sole plots (Table 2).

The CP concentration of Indianhead lentil forage was greater than the CP concentration of other crops or crop mixtures in 1998, as was the CP concentration of lentil forage was in 1997 (Table 2). The CP concentration of Trapper pea forage was greater than the CP concentration of forage of sole cereal treatments. There was a consistent but non-significant trend for forage CP concentration to increase when peas were intercropped compared with sole cereal plots.

The ADF and NDF concentration of lentil forage was less than ADF and NDF concentration of pea, cereal, and cereal-pea mixtures in 1998 (Table 3). These data and the forage CP concentration data suggest that Indianhead lentil produces higher quality forage compared with other treatments included in Table 3.

Objective 3

Fertilizing peas for seed production
Pea seed yield was not increased by in-row applications of urea, MAP, or TSP (Table 4). Bushel weight and seed weight of peas also were unaffected by in-row fertilizer treatments. Fewer pea plants emerged and became established when MAP was applied at 50 and 75 lb/acre, or TSP was applied at 60 and 90 lb/acre. Results of this experiment concur with results of the experiment conducted near Beulah and Hannover in 1997 (Eriksmoen et al., 1997): there was no advantage in-row applications of N or P fertilizer provide regarding seed yield, test weight, or seed weight.

Seeding rate comparisons for maximum pea seed yield
Pea seed yield did not vary between seeding rates of 200 000, 250 000, 300 000, 350 000, and 400 000 PLS/acre for both Carneval and Trapper pea (Table 5). Pea bushel weight and seed weight were unaffected by seeding rate changes. Plant population was less when peas were seeded at <300 000 PLS/acre compared with 350 000 and 400 000 PLS/acre. These preliminary data suggest that present seeding rate recommendations for peas of 325 000 to 350 000 PLS/acre may be higher than necessary for optimum seed yield.

Objective 4

Mustard
Seed yield averaged 791 lb/acre for the six mustard cultivars compared (Table 6). Differences among the six mustard cultivars did not exist for yield or gross returns. AC Vulcan and Forge produced seed with a lower test weight than seed produced by other cultivars. Seed size also was smaller for AC Vulcan and Forge. Flowering was delayed for these two cultivars compared with other cultivars, resulting in a shorter flowering period. This shortened flowering period for AC Vulcan and Forge may have resulted in the smaller seed size and lighter test weight.

Safflower
The cultivar S 518 produced more seed than any other cultivar (Table 7). Conversely, Erlin produced less seed than other cultivars, except Montola 2000, Montola 2001, Morlin, and Finch. The bushel weight of Finch seed was heavier than that of other cultivars, while the seed weight of Finch was similar to that of S 317, S 518, and S 541..

The seed oil content ranged from 34.5% for Finch to 38.9% for Centennial (Table 7). The seed oil content of the fatty acid modified Montola 2000 and Montola 2001 were 36%.

Flax
No data were collected from flax plots at Glen Ullin because of emergence and other problems. Flax seed yield averaged only 8.5 bu/acre at Beulah because of dry conditions before and during the growing season (Table 8). Flax seed yield averaged 25 bu/acre at Hannover.

Differences in gross returns did not exist among flax cultivars in 1998 at Beulah and Hannover (Table 8). Gross returns averaged $116.37/acre for flax cultivars grown at Hannover, and < $40/acre for flax grown at Beulah.

Bushel weight of flax averaged 49.8 lb/bu at Beulah and 56.6 lb/bu at Hannover (Table 7). Seed weight was 148 178 seeds/lb at Beulah and 85 368 seeds/lb at Hannover. Differences between cultivars for bushel and seed weight did not exist at either location.

Conclusions/implications of Research

Objective 1

The corn cultivar Dekalb DK-385 B produced more silage than the high-sugar, silage cultivar Cargill HS60A in 1998. These data indicate that corn cultivars developed for silage production (HS60A) may not produce more forage than cultivars developed for grain production (DK-385 B). The results of this experiment do not answer a related question: is forage quality superior for cultivars developed for silage production compared with cultivars developed for grain production.

Grain yield averaged almost 60 bu/acre for 12 corn hybrids under dryland management in 1998. If birds had not damaged corn grain prior to harvested, we estimate average grain yields of over 80 bu/acre. These data suggest that corn hybrids are adapted to southwestern North Dakota for grain production.

Objective 2

No cool-season, annual crop was superior to oat for forage production in 1998. Barley and triticale sole crop, and cereal-pea intercrops, produced equal amounts of forage to oat sole crop. Less forage was produced by pea or lentil sole crop, but CP concentration was enhanced in legume forage compared with oat sole crop forage. These preliminary data suggest that annual legume crops may be preferred to oat if higher forage quality is desired.

Objective 2

Preliminary data suggest that variable costs associated with pea production can be reduced by modifying fertilizer and seeding rate practices. There was no advantage for in-row applications of N and P fertilizers to peas for seed yield, bushel weight, or seed weight. No advantage resulted for seed yield when peas were seeded at rates > 250 000 PLS/acre.

Objective 3

Higher gross returns were generated by safflower than spring wheat in 1998. Since variable costs associated with safflower and spring wheat are similar, these preliminary data suggest that safflower production may be more profitable than spring wheat production in southwestern North Dakota, under economic conditions similar to those encountered during this project.

Literature Cited

Ball, W.S. 1987. Crop rotations for North Dakota. NDSU Ext. Serv. Circ. EB-48. North Dakota State Univ., Fargo. 20 p.

Eriksmoen, E., P. Carr, G. Martin, R. Olson, and L. Tisor. 1997. Fourteenth annual west Dakota crops day research report. Hettinger, Research Extension Center, Hettinger. ND.

SAS Inst. 1985. SAS procedures guide for personal computers. Version 6 ed. SAS Inst., Cary, NC.

Acknowledgments

The author wishes to thank Glenn B. Martin, Research Specialist; Burt A. Melchior, Research Technician; and Lee J. Tisor, Research Specialist, for assistance in establishing and managing the experiment, and for processing and analyzing data. Thanks also is extended to Woodrow (Chip) W. Poland, Area Livestock Specialist, for editing the manuscript, and to Nichole Kuntz, Information Processing Specialist, for conversion of the manuscript to electronic format. All personnel are located at the North Dakota State University's Dickinson Research Extension Center.

Table 1. Silage and grain yield of twelve corn cultivars in 1998 at Dickinson.
Brand

Hybrid

RM1
days
Grain Silage Yield
Harvest
Moisture
%
70%
Moisture
DM Basis
Yield
bu/ac
TW2
lb/bu
1997 1998 2 yr avg
Tons/acre
Dekalb DK-355 85 55.0 57.0 64 13.4 -- 4.0 --
Dekalb DK-385 B 88 51.7 57.5 66 15.7 5.1 4.7 4.9
Dekalb DK-404SR 90 68.6 55.2 67 12.4 -- 3.7 --
Dekalb DK-405 90 60.3 55.4 67 14.5 -- 4.3 --
Dekalb DK-431 93 60.0 55.4 69 15.4 -- 4.6 --
Dekalb DK-493RR 99 70.2 53.2 69 14.7 -- 4.4 --
Cargill HS60A 108 33.2 51.8 73 12.9 -- 3.9 --
Croplan max 40 84 66.6 58.6 62 14.0 -- 4.2 --
Croplan 154 78 59.7 57.4 57 12.6 -- 3.8 --
Payco 4x85 85 64.0 56.2 64 13.3 -- 4.0 --
Proseed 180 80 51.0 58.2 65 11.3 3.6 3.4 3.5
Proseed 185 85 68.6 54.0 66 12.4 4.3 3.7 4.0
 
Mean     59.1 55.8 65.8 13.6 -- 4.1 --
C.V. %     16.6 1.6 3.1 12.7 -- 12.7 --
LSD .05     NS 1.3 2.9 2.5 -- 0.7 --

1RM=relative maturity
2TW=test weight

 

Table 2. Harvest moisture, yield, and crude protein (CP) concentration of forage produced by cool season, annual crops at Dickinson 1998.
Variety Harvest Moisture DM1 Basis
Yield CP
1997 1998 avg 1997 1998 avg 1997 1998 avg
% tons/ac %
Haybet barley 63 64 64 1.8 3.5 2.7 11.3 8.1 9.7
Stark barley -- 64 -- -- 3.0 -- -- 8.8 --
Trapper pea 78 75 77 1.4 2.5 2.0 13.4 14.8 14.1
Indianhead lentil 77 75 76 0.7 1.7 1.2 16.2 22.2 19.2
Aladin faba bean 83 -- -- 0.6 -- -- 18.0 -- --
2700 triticale 65 65 65 1.9 3.0 2.5 11.5 9.0 10.3
2700/Trapper 63 66 65 2.2 3.2 2.7 10.5 10.8 10.7
Paul oat 76 70 73 1.2 2.7 2.0 11.8 8.9 10.4
Paul/Trapper 75 70 73 1.5 2.9 2.2 12.6 11.3 12.0
Whitestone oat 69 67 68 1.6 3.3 2.5 10.1 7.6 8.9
Whitestone/Trapper 73 67 70 1.8 3.3 2.6 11.8 10.5 11.2
Robert oat/Trapper 75 -- -- 1.5 -- -- 12.3 -- --
 
Mean 73 68 70 1.5 2.9 2.2 12.7 11.2 11.8
C.V. % 4.8 3.7 -- 17.0 14.1 -- 13.0 18.9 --
LSD .05 10 4 -- NS 0.6 -- 2.4 3.6 --
1DM = dry matter

 

Table 3. Acid detergent fiber (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) concentration of forage of cool season, annual crops grown at Dickinson in 1998.
Variety DM1 Basis
ADF NDF
1997 1998 avg 1997 1998 avg
%
Haybet barley 33 42 38 52 68 60
Stark barley -- 40 -- -- 61 --
Trapper pea 46 49 48 51 55 53
Indianhead lentil 35 31 33 41 42 42
Aladin faba bean 49 -- -- 51 -- --
2700 triticale 41 50 46 63 74 69
2700/Trapper 43 47 45 59 71 65
Paul oat 44 42 43 60 64 62
Paul/Trapper 45 43 44 53 61 57
Whitestone oat 44 44 44 65 67 66
Whitestone/Trapper 44 42 43 58 62 60
Robert oat/Trapper 42 -- -- 56 -- --
 
Mean 42 43 43 55 62 59
C.V. % 6.7 5.6 -- 5.3 4.6 --
LSD .05 4 4 -- 4 5 --
1DM = dry matter

 

Table 4. Plant stand, seed yield, bushel weight, and seed weight for Carneval peas with and without in-row applications of N and P fertilizers at Dickinson in 1998.
Variety Fertilizer rate
lbs/ac
Fertilizer type Plant stand
plants/acre
Seeds
per
pound
Test weight
lbs/bu
Seed yield
lbs/acre
Carneval 0 NONE1 249,801 2,020 64.8 2,839
Carneval 6 urea 241,637 2,042 64.4 2,834
Carneval 12 urea 244,086 1,982 64.8 2,788
Carneval 18 urea 217,963 2,066 64.5 2,567
Carneval 25 MAP 219,596 1,999 64.1 2,877
Carneval 50 MAP 176,330 1,836 64.5 2,843
Carneval 75 MAP 144,493 1,888 64.8 2,580
Carneval 30 TSP 250,617 2,030 64.1 2,979
Carneval 60 TSP 208,984 2,027 64.6 2,850
Carneval 90 TSP 202,453 1,950 64.0 2,933
 
Mean -- -- 215,596 1,984 64.5 2,809
C.V. % -- -- 11.5 9.1 0.8 6.4
LSD .05 -- -- 36,056 NS NS 259
1NONE = no fertilizer; urea = 46-0-0; MAP = 11-52-0; TSP = 0-44-0.

 

Table 5. Plant stand, seed yield, bushel weight, and seed weight for Carneval and Trapper peas at five seeding rates at Dickinson in 1998.
Treatment Plant stand
plants/acre
Seeds per pound
#
Test weight
lbs/bu
Seed yield
bu/acre
Seeding Rate (SR)
200,000 PLS/acre 154,289 3,136 63.5 30
250,000 PLS/acre 188,167 3,121 63.7 33
300,000 PLS/acre 217,555 3,229 63.8 31
350,000 PLS/acre 233,882 3,272 63.6 31
400,000 PLS/acre 234,698 3,260 63.8 32
 
LSD .05 25,538 NS1 NS NS
 
Cultivar (C)        
Carneval 224,821 2,041 64.4 42
Trapper 186,616 4,366 63.0 21
 
LSD .05 16,152 116 0.4 2
Mean 205,718 3,204 63.7 31
SR X C * NS NS NS
1NS = not significant; * = significant at the P < 0.05 level.

 

Table 6. Agronomic characteristics of six mustard cultivars at Dickinson in 1998.
Cultivar Type Days
to
flower
d
Flower
duration
d
Seeds
per
pound
#
Plant
height
in
Test
weight
lbs/bu
Seed
yield
lbs/ac
Gross
returns
$/acre
AC Pennant Y 42 30 113,350 24 55.9 765 103.27
AC Vulcan O 47 27 200,210 36 52.8 1,059 142.98
Forge O 51 27 223,004 40 52.8 677 91.45
SA 92-75 Y 42 30 105,683 26 55.9 749 101.07
Tilney Y 41 31 93,995 27 55.0 811 109.43
Viscount Y 42 32 113,578 28 55.3 683 92.22
 
Mean -- 44 29 141,637 30 54.6 791 106.74
C.V. % -- 1 4.0 10.6 5.9 1.2 15.5 15.5
LSD .05 -- 1 2 22,562 3 1.0 NS NS

 

Table 7. Agronomic characteristics of twelve safflower cultivars at Dickinson in 1998.
Variety Days to
flower
d
Seeds
per
pound
#
Plant height
in
Oil
%
Test weight
lbs/bu
Seed yield
lbs/ac
Returns
$/acre
95B 7181 84 13,782 24 35.2 44.3 1,645 197.40
Centennial 87 14,087 26 38.9 41.0 1,692 203.06
Erlin 85 17,364 23 35.5 37.1 1,327 159.30
Finch 86 14,589 26 34.5 44.4 1,492 178.99
Montola 2000 86 16,147 22 36.3 38.0 1,477 177.23
Montola 2001 86 12,058 25 36.4 39.3 1,435 172.17
Morlin 88 18,358 25 36.0 40.0 1,479 177.44
S 317 86 14,209 27 36.8 38.3 1,769 212.30
S 518 87 14,399 25 35.6 37.0 1,990 238.77
S 541 87 14,316 24 38.7 40.0 1,793 215.13
 
Mean 86 14,931 25 36.4 39.9 1,610 193.18
C.V. % 0.7 4.4 4.2 1.7 0.8 7.1 7.1
LSD .05 1 956 2 0.9 0.5 165 19.83

 

Table 8. Agronomic characteristics of five flax cultivars at Beulah and Hannover in 1998.
Variety Seeds
per
Pound
#
Plant
Height
in
Test
Weight
lbs/bu
Seed
Yield
bu/ac
Returns
$/acre
Beulah
Cathay 142,374 19 50.0 7.2 33.42
Flor 150,138 20 50.0 9.6 44.77
Neche 138,000 20 50.0 7.5 35.07
Omega 151,754 21 49.0 9.2 42.83
Pembina 158,624 21 50.0 8.8 40.85
 
Mean 148,178 39.38 49.8 8.5 39.38
C.V. % 11.7 11.8 -- 11.8 11.8
LSD .05 NS NS -- NS NS
Hannover
Cathay 83,366 26 56.6 25.9 120.29
Flor 90,348 24 56.4 25.0 116.47
Neche 85,641 25 57.1 23.6 109.74
Omega 81,750 26 56.4 23.0 107.17
Pembina 85,738 25 56.6 27.6 128.20
 
Mean 85,368 25 56.6 25.0 116.37
C.V. % 5.3 3.8 0.8 16.0 16.0
LSD .05 NS NS NS NS NS

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