Farm Progress

The On-Farm Research Network conducted three on-farm trials last growing season, and the trials' results are summarized here.

Paula Mohr, Editor, The Farmer

January 6, 2017

9 Min Read
ON-SITE TRIALS: Research plots are located on 15 acres right by the Minnesota Wheat Growers’ office in Red Lake Falls. R. Jay Goos, a North Dakota State University soil science professor (left), talked with wheat growers about research trials and wheat tillering.

Data from another year of on-farm research has been compiled by Minnesota Wheat’s On-Farm Research Network, plus collaborative research conducted with North Dakota State University scientists.

Research reports were given at the Prairie Grains Conference in Fargo, N.D., in December.


PLOT WORK: Lauren Proulx (left) and Katie Kainz provided on-farm support for farmers involved with Minnesota Wheat’s On-Farm Research Network.

The On-Farm Research Network — a grower-funded, producer-driven research program — had three on-farm trials this past growing season, says Lauren Proulx, agronomist and OFRN coordinator. Summaries of those trials are as follows:

• Plant growth regulator. Farmers are looking at growth regulators to help prevent wheat from lodging. OFRN conducted its first plant growth regulator trials using Palisade in 2015. Two trials were done, one showing a 4-bushel increase and the other showing no increase.

In 2016, trials were held at six locations: one each near Hendrum, Dorothy, Red Lake Falls and St. Hilaire, and two by Fertile. Participants applied Palisade at a rate of 12 fluid ounces per acre as close to the Feekes 7 growth stage as spray conditions allowed. Feekes 7 is the growth stage where two stem nodes are visible aboveground. The growth regulator impacted plant height, grain test weight and yield. Plants showed an average of 3.6 inches of height difference, with the Palisade-applied strips having the shorter plants. There also was a 0.7-pound-per-bushel better test weight with Palisade, and no difference in protein.

On average, there was a 3-bushel difference in yield favoring the Palisade. However, varieties may respond differently. In this trial, farmers planted Prosper, Forefront, Digger and a Prosper-Faller mix.

Looking at the economics of using Palisade is different for every grower, Proulx says. Palisade cost $12 per acre. A 3-bushel yield increase did not cover the cost of application.

Still, growers may still want to consider it in lush wheat years, Proulx says. “In years where the wheat is lodged more — 2015 is a good example — the Palisade could make an even greater difference, not only in yield and quality, but when harvesting,” she says. “Especially for a grower who wants to push the yields with fertility and a high-yielding variety, Palisade could prove beneficial.”

• Optimum seeding rate trial. The OFRN conducted this trial with two varieties, Linkert and Bolles. Bolles was planted by farmers in three locations: Roseau, Campbell and Red Lake Falls. Linkert was planted at four locations: Roseau, Waukon, Argyle and Dorothy. Fields were seeded at 1 million, 1.5 million and 2 million seeds for three replications, with some doing additional replications and/or seeding rates.

Stand counts were taken at all locations. Bolles' stand loss ranged from 14.7% to 22%, and Linkert from 15.6% to 24.9%. Yields were flat across seeding rates, except one Linkert location. This was surprising, Proulx says, because they hypothesized that the yield would vary more than it did — especially because these varieties aren’t known to produce tillers like high-yield-potential varieties. Thus, yields in 2016 showed that increasing the seeding rate beyond 1 million seeds per acre did not lead to an increase in yield.

• Topdressing nitrogen as UAN near boot growth stage. Growers applied their normal preplant nitrogen and compared an application of 10 gallons of stabilized 28% UAN to no additional N. There were 11 locations for this trial: one each in Winger, Wylie, Goodridge, Halstad and Red Lake Falls; and two each in Felton, Crookston and Hendrum. The varieties planted were Albany, Mayville, Linkert, Prosper and SY Valda.

No yield increases were reported, yet protein averaged 0.2% better than the control average. “If this timing continues to shows only a slight increase in protein and not yield along with it, growers would be better off doing an application immediately after post-anthesis, or flowering, for a proven 0.5% to 1% increase in protein,” Proulx says.


NEW WHEAT RESEARCHER: Grant Mehring became research director for the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council last year. He also is a North Dakota State University research assistant professor.

• 100% ESN vs. 100% urea, fall-applied. This trial compared 100% of the growers’ nitrogen as ESN (a coated, slow-release urea, or “smart nitrogen”) vs. 100% as urea and applied in the fall. Farms in two locations, Alvarado and Red Lake Falls, participated, and two varieties were evaluated: SY Soren and Mayville. Unfortunately there was no difference in grain quality or yield.

• N-Serve Nitrification Inhibitor. One grower near Roseau did a trial with the nitrification inhibitor N-Serve. He wanted to know if he could reduce his preplant nitrogen by using N-Serve with anhydrous ammonia. The trial was set up with three treatments replicated three times: with the preplant N reduced by 25%, the same amount with N-Serve and with the full amount of N. His trial showed no difference in yield or quality.


SHARING RESEARCH: Jasper Teboh, NDSU soil scientist (left), and Dave Torgerson, executive director for Minnesota Wheat, give an overview of northwest Minnesota wheat research.

Looking ahead
In 2017, Proulx says the network will be doing research again on seeding rate, Palisade and topdressing with UAN. A new trial will be added to evaluate sulfur response in wheat. The sulfur trial will compare the use of 100 pounds ammonium sulfate vs. no added AMS.

“We will look for fields with 3% organic matter or less, but we may take a field that doesn’t fit into that category because there have been some sulfur deficiencies showing up in those areas lately, as well as the low-organic-matter fields,” Proulx says. “We may also do research with the onboard protein analyzer, CropScan 3000H, and a trial comparing variable-rate fertilizer vs. flat-rate-applied.”


Minnesota, North Dakota collaborate on research
Here are a few research projects sponsored by the Minnesota Wheat Growers Research and Promotion Council and North Dakota State University.

• Bacterial leaf streak, root and crown rots and viral diseases of wheat. Bacterial leaf streak (BLS), prevalent in Minnesota, is considered to be the second-most-important disease of wheat in the state after fusarium head blight. Managing BLS is difficult due to the lack of highly resistant cultivars and other effective tools, especially as fungicides are ineffective against bacteria. Research was intended to improve understanding of the disease and to develop methods for disease control. Root and crown diseases of wheat may cause significant yield losses, although they frequently go unnoticed. Since root diseases compromise the root system, these diseases are especially damaging in years when water is limiting during grain filling. Surveys from 2012 to 2015 identified several root rot pathogens affecting wheat crops in Minnesota. Research continued to identify the pathogens causing root disease.

In 2016, researchers tested 120 released varieties and advanced lines from seven wheat breeding programs in the Upper Great Plains in four locations: Crookston, Minn.; St. Paul and Fargo, N.D.; and Brookings, S.D. The data from all four locations indicate that significant differences were observed in these materials for their reaction to BLS under field conditions.

Root rot disease research has identified various fusarium species in plants. Researchers are using molecular and/or DNA sequencing to further confirm the identity of isolated fungi.

Regarding viral diseases, tested wheat samples collected by Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota researchers indicate that the predominate strain of barley yellow dwarf virus and cereal yellow dwarf virus in hard red spring wheat is BYDV with the PAV serotype, the same as data from previous surveys in the region.

• Spring wheat yield, protein response to nitrogen and sulfur on irrigated and nonirrigated soils. Yield differed consistently among six varieties at three Minnesota locations: Crookston, Fergus Falls and Staples. RB07 produced the greatest yield across sites, followed in order by Mayville, Faller, Select, Glenn, and lastly, Vantage. Grain protein concentration was greatest for Vantage and Glenn with Faller producing the least. Total protein produced per acre was greatest for the top-yielding variety. As in previous years, Staples had the highest average grain protein compared to the other two locations. It is unclear why Staples has had a higher potential protein concentration.

There was no detectable increase in yield from sulfur at the Crookston and Fergus Falls locations. In 2014, the 7.5-pound S rate produced a significant yield increase at Staples, and there was no further increase to the 15-pound rate. In 2015, grain yield was again increased at Staples, but only for the 15-pound S rate. The actual yield increase was less at 4 bushels per acre in 2015 than occurred in 2014. There was a yield decrease due to the application of the 15-pound S rate at Staples in 2016. The reason for the decrease was not clear. In 2016, grain yield was increased when 15 pounds of S was applied at Fergus Falls. This response to sulfur at Fergus Falls is the first that has been found outside of the Staples location.

Grain protein content was increased by S at Staples. At Staples, the 7.5- and 15-pound S rate produced an increase of 0.2% to 0.3% protein. Average protein levels were above 14%, so the increase in grain protein concentration would not have resulted in a discount. Grain protein produced on a per-acre basis was only impacted by sulfur at Staples due to the impact of S on both grain yield and protein concentration. Grain protein concentration and total protein produced per acre was not increased or decreased at Crookston or Fergus Falls.

• Developing adapted spring wheat cultivars for Minnesota. Applied breeding for superior spring wheat cultivars remains the focus of the North Dakota State University breeding program with selection pressure placed on environments in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.

In 2016, around 600 breeding populations were evaluated and advanced through phenotypic selection in eastern North Dakota. Roughly 150 to 200 crosses were made targeting eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota during the spring crossing cycle, and around 300 are expected during the winter season’s greenhouse crossing cycle. These crosses were made with goals of shorter plant height, greater straw strength, FHB resistance and high end-use quality.

• Minnesota Small Grains Pest Survey. Three disease scouts were hired to work in Minnesota and began working in May, scouting 20 to 390 fields per week in their areas.

In 2016, scouting efforts reported that major leaf diseases early in the season in wheat fields were tan spot and Septoria spot blotch in the state. Although there was evidence of both stripe and leaf rust in southern Minnesota, these diseases did not become prevalent as in previous years, largely due to environmental conditions not being conducive for either disease to take hold.

Cereal aphids moved and carried barley yellow dwarf throughout the state, although incidences appeared to be low. Fusarium head blight was again an issue, helped by high relative humidity days and frequent rainfall. Bacterial leaf streak in the latter part of the season was prevalent. However, the disease was not visible in many fields until after heading had occurred. Oat crown rust was prevalent in oats, although not necessarily reaching high levels of disease severity, especially where fields had been sprayed with fungicide for control. The main disease identified in barley fields was net blotch.


About the Author(s)

Paula Mohr

Editor, The Farmer

Mohr is former editor of The Farmer.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like