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Tours of research trials at the Landgon REC gave farmers the opportunity to hear about results and ask questions. Photo by Linda Timian

The NDSU Langdon Research Extension Center and Northern Canola Growers Association hosted their 2021 Field Day on Thursday morning, July 22, 2021. Field Days are conducted at all seven RECs in North Dakota over a two week period. This article is the first in a series of three covering the event at Langdon.

“Field Days give NDSU professors, researchers, scientists, and grad students the opportunity to meet growers out in the field across the state and vice-versa” said REC Director Randy Mehlhoff. Producers can learn about the latest research, techniques, and technologies in crop production and weed, insect, and disease control.

Mehlhoff opened the event and welcomed all the attendees, including the many faculty from NDSU and researchers from various Research Extension Centers around the state. He encouraged those in attendance to ask questions while on the tour as there were many experts available to address issues.

Dr. Carrie Miranda, soybean breeder at NDSU in Fargo, presented information about new soybean varieties. It takes about 7-10 years to develop new breeds, so the soybean varieties that you will see in the next several years will have been in the works for many years prior by her predecessor, Dr. Ted Helms. She encouraged farmers to tell her what they need so that the future NDSU varieties continue to meet the needs of the state.

Miranda is excited to incorporate new tools like drones, robots, molecular markers, and genomic prediction models to modernize the NDSU breeding program like so many private seed companies have done already. These tools will help get higher yield varieties to the farmers faster.

Glyphosate tolerance is very important, and she is dedicated to continuing that work. A new soybean variety for this part of the state is called 21ND008GT20 (GT20 for short). It has an earlier maturity, helpful for farmers concerned about frost. This new variety is being increased at the Langdon REC.

Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) is a big problem in other soybean producing states and is migrating north. Miranda has NDSU varieties in progress that are resistant to SCN, hoping to avoid issues with nematodes before they become a problem in North Dakota and have an economic impact. Once that first SCN resistant variety comes out, every variety after that will have that trait.

Soybean Sudden Death Syndrome, a relatively new disease for soybeans, has been spotted in the state. It was first discovered by Dr. Chapara from the Langdon REC. Miranda will be incorporating SDS resistance genes in her soybean breeding program starting this year.

Miranda is also introducing high oleic soybean technology to North Dakota, which avoids the stabilizing process in production, that causes heart disease. Other states already have this in place. It will take a few years, but she is promoting it now to get the idea out there.

Bryan Hanson, research agronomist at LREC, discussed row spacing and plant populations in dry beans and soybeans. Farmers are trending towards narrower rows and higher populations, so studies have been done to evaluate the profitability of these practices.

Trials were conducted on black turtle beans at 14, 21, and 28 inch row spacing with no significant difference in yields. There were slightly higher yields in established plants at 117 and 140 thousand per acre, so there is an advantage to plant populations over 90 thousand.

For navy beans, 14 inch rows resulted in the highest yields compared to the wider rows. The recommendation of the study was that if you can get plant populations higher than 115 thousand, plant them in narrower rows, and you should get increased yields of 24-28 percent.

Hanson noted that Sclerotinia effects can be a problem with pinto beans and other beans. Narrower rows may have disease problems since the wind does not flow through as well. Also, producers are choosing varieties that stand up better when planting narrower rows in order to have a more direct harvest.

The 2019 pinto bean trials in Carrington yielded 500 pound higher yields at the 21 inch and 7 inch paired rows compared to the wider rows. The 2020 trials in Langdon saw no difference in pinto bean yields with either plant populations or row spacing. Summarizing seven site years of trials, the 18-22 inch row spacings yielded 13 percent more than the wider rows.

In 28 soybean trials conducted in 2020, the optimum population was about 180 thousand over all row spacings. Optimum populations were about 170 thousand for the narrower rows and 191 thousand for the wider rows. Also, every inch decreased in row spacing saw about a one-half percent increase in yield. The greatest yields were seen at 7 inch row spacings at 106 percent of the average, while the 30 inch row had about 90 percent of the average. Comparing 12-14 inch rows to the 24-30 inch rows, narrower rows always yielded more at about a 98 to 106 percent.

Dr. Nonoy Bandillo, pulse breeder at NDSU, discussed the profitability and market opportunities of pulses – specifically dry peas, chickpeas, and lentils. North Dakota is the leading state for dry pea production, second in lentil production, and third in chickpea production. Of the 2.2 million acres of pulses farmed in the US, 800,000 acres are in North Dakota. Last year, Cavalier County seeded 5000-8000 acres of dry peas. That grew to 24,000 acres in 2021.

Pulses have many market opportunities and demand for products. Each Beyond Meat burger consists of 20 grams of dry pea protein, whereas the Impossible burger is made of soybeans. There is also a market for pea flour in making noodles.

Pulses take nitrogen from the air and put it in the soil, eliminating the expense of applying nitrogen to the field. This benefits next year’s crop and the farmer’s budget.

In 2020, NDSU released its first variety of dry pea called ND Dawn, a large yellow field pea with high yield potential in the ND environment. It has a 95 day maturity which makes it suitable for ND growing conditions, is tolerant to lodging and has a good standability. Protein content is 24.1 percent which is ideal for processors to get premium price for high-protein peas.

NDSU has also introduced a new variety of chickpea called ND Crown which is resistant to Ascochytar blight. Although chickpeas are not grown in Cavalier County, the trials for ND Crown were conducted at Langdon REC. Cavalier County has high pressure from disease nearly every year, making it a good test site for disease resistance on all crops.

Dr. Joe Ikley, Extension weed specialist at NDSU in Fargo, discussed northeast ND weed problems, an issue in both wet and dry years. Earlier this spring, he and a research technician flagged a field. After they got back to campus they scraped the mud off their boots and planted it in the greenhouse to see what would grow. The result was 6 different species of weeds grown off the mud of 4 boots. Ikley urged growers to look at the many ways weeds can be spread – like boots and ATVs - and do whatever they can to prevent that spread, particularly with the prevalence of herbicide resistant weeds and their seeds.

Ikley said most of his phone calls from growers across the state right now are about failure to control or kill green foxtail with group 1 and 2 herbicides. In a drought, weeds are more difficult to control, especially with post-emergence herbicides, due to a number of contributing factors.

In a drought, a weed will harden off, meaning it grows a thicker cuticle making it harder to get the active ingredient inside the weed. Weeds may stop growing, so there are situations where even though the active ingredient is in the plant, it may not translocate to the site of action it needs to be to kill that weed. The weed’s canopy architecture may change in a drought resulting in less surface area for the herbicide to land on. Finally, in dry weather a percentage of the herbicide droplets may evaporate from the time it leaves the nozzle to the time it hits the plant.

Ikley noted that a weed may be susceptible to a herbicide under greenhouse conditions where they are tested, but all of the factors mentioned above may result in herbicide resistance and the reason weeds are harder to control this year.

The final issue Ikley talked about was Kochia. A lot of wheat fields are nearing harvest, there are fields with Kochia poking above the canopy, and there are 30-60 days until frost leaving plenty of time for every Kochia weed to generate as many as 15,000 seeds each. Tilling under is a good idea as well as pre-harvest or post-harvest herbicide applications. Think of it as part of next year’s weed control budget.

The morning wrapped up with lunch provided by the Northern Canola Growers Association. Some of the presentations were posted on the NDSU Langdon REC Facebook page. Next week’s article will cover three more speakers with an emphasis on canola.

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