Nebraska Extension will host field days across the state in June to discuss winter wheat variety plots, as well as pulse crop plots.
During the field visits, participants will learn about varieties of winter wheat and field peas. Depending on the location, field visits will also include other specialty crops — chickpeas, lentils, winter canola, forages or cover crops — along with demonstrations of different agronomic practices like planting date, seeding rates, fertilizer management, etc.
With more statewide research in pulse crops, this year's field days have grown in size and diversity. This year, field days will feature short presentations indoors, sharing data from research over the previous year. Research updates will include pulse crop production and marketing, incorporation of cover crops into wheat and field pea cropping systems, wheat production management for higher yield and grain protein, and updates on winter wheat diseases and wheat breeding.
Strahinja Stepanovic, Nebraska Extension cropping systems educator, notes pulse crops like field peas fit into rotations differently depending on the location. So, topics at each location will vary based on how pulse crops fit into rotations in the region.
"In eastern Nebraska, we have field peas, chickpeas and lentils, and we're going to talk about how we double-crop short-season crops or forage crops to fit into the rotation. So it's a different ballgame and different crop systems depending on the environment you're working with," Stepanovic says. "In central Nebraska, they're looking at planting field peas in place of soybeans to help store soil moisture and plant wheat earlier, with the hope that wheat will do better behind peas."
This year, industry representatives will give a 90-second introduction, followed by 30-minute networking session to give growers a chance to meet various representatives within the pulse crop industry.
"It will be a chance for people that are considering pulses to come together and talk to the industry and figure out how to market their crops," Stepanovic says. "This industry is so unique. It's nothing like corn and soybeans; it's about networking and making connections. So we're hoping to give growers a better understanding of how to market your crop."
Field day locations
Field days will be held at several locations throughout Nebraska in the coming weeks:
June 12 — Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead; registration starts at 9 a.m.
June 18 — Jordan Carlson's farm near Callaway; field day will start at 9 a.m. From Gothenburg, go north about 21 miles until intersection highways 47 and 40, continue north on 40 for a half-mile. The field pea variety plot will be on the east side of the road. The field day will then move to the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte for lunch, an indoor session and afternoon plot tours.
June 19 — Stumpf Wheat Center near Grant; registration starts at 8:30 a.m.
June 20 — Terry Woollen's farm near Alma; field day will start at 9 a.m. From Alma, travel north 7 miles on Highway 183, and turn turn on Highwaway 42A blacktop, and go 2 miles east, and turn right on P Road and travel south 3.7 miles. The plot is on the west side of the road. The field day will then move to Blue Hill Community Center for lunch, an indoor session and plot tours of field peas and forage at Tim Engelhardt's farm near Bladen around 3:30 p.m. To get to Engelhardt's farm from Bladen, go 5 miles south to the intersection of roads 800 and T, and then a half-mile west. The plot is on the south side of the road.
Stepanovic says as demand for plant-based protein rises, more pulse crops continue to be a value-added opportunity for growers in Nebraska and other Great Plains states.
"It's growing on the processing side, on the customer demand and on the production side. I think the growers that pick this up in the next three years will start working more with end-users as farmers," he says. "It takes a mental switch. Having in the back of your mind that you growing food is part of it. You don’t just take grain to the nearest elevator. How do you manage your farm operations?"
Nebraska Field Pea Field Days are free, thanks to sponsorship by the Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education in Nebraska, the Nebraska Environmental Trust, and the pulse crops seed and processing industry, including Redwood Group, Farmers Business Network, Pulse USA, Green Cover Seed, Roberts Seed, Great Northern Ag, Meridian Seeds, Bratney Companies, Luhrs Certified Seed, Frenchman Valley Co-op, and WestBred.