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NDSU Extension hosts crop tour

Agronomist John Rickertsen shows Bowman producers what varieties of wheat grow best in this area. Frank Turner/Bowman County Pioneer

Farmers from all over the surrounding area gathered in Bowman for the NDSU Extension’s crop tour this week for a look at the latest local crop research.

By Frank Turner

Research Agronomist John Rickertsen showcased different crop types and variants to show what crops have been growing best in the Bowman County region.

Rickertsen explained, “We are basically just giving people an overview of what research we are doing at the agronomy research station. People want to know what works best here.”

During the field day, producers got to see up close and in person exactly what experimental trials are working best close to home.

Rickertsen explained that what grows well in Fargo and Bismarck might not grow well in the surrounding area.

“That’s how our research stations are set up,” said Rickertsen. “We are set up as these regional centers to work with people coming in from all over the area.”

At the field day, Rickertsen showed off different varieties of durum wheat and spring wheat. 

Rickertsen explained that a variant is a breed of crop that has been bred over many generations and selected for certain traits like higher yield, disease resistance, and protein abundance.

“It’s genetics,” said Rickertsen. “It’s just like eye or hair color. For example, industrial hemp is cannabis, the same stuff that people smoke, however industrial hemp has all the THC bred out.“

According to Rickertsen, NDSU does quality analysis on different variants of the same crop to see which breed consistently performs the best for what the producer is looking for. For a farmer, improving higher yields and disease resistance allows crucial year-to-year progress.   

Rickertsen said that every year, the research station is consistently testing more variants. As the research station researches more variants, they are hoping to find the best performing breed for farmers to grow locally.

Even if there is an exciting new variant, Rickertsen said that it takes over three years to really know if a crop can consistently perform well in the area.

“We are looking to see variants that perform well over many years,” said Rickertsen. “We also like to look at more than just Hettinger. We look at the western sites to make sure the varieties work over a broad area.”

Regardless of what producers decide to plant, the point of the field day is to give farmers an understanding of what is available and what works in Bowman County.

Overall, Rickertsen said that the local crop tour was a success.

“I was very pleased with the attendance,” he said. “We had one of our best turnouts in while.”

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