David Y. Lanclos, Chaney, John A. | 4/26/2005 8:28:32 PM
ALEXANDRIA – Thanks to LSU AgCenter faculty, farmers this year can use data collected from the largest on-farm demonstration trials ever conducted in Louisiana to select what they plant next year.
The demonstration projects were conducted during the 2004 growing season on corn, grain sorghum and soybeans and are available to farmers for the 2005 growing season.
"This is a giant step forward for our crop demonstration program in the state," said LSU AgCenter soybean, corn and grain sorghum specialist Dr. David Lanclos. "We planted replicated variety trials on large acreages throughout the state and were able to post the results to the Web site within three days of harvest."
By posting the variety information on the LSU AgCenter Web site, experts give farmers the chance to study the data before they order seeds for the upcoming crop season. The information can be accessed at www.lsuagcenter.com by clicking the crop and livestock link on the left side of the page.
"Most farmers book their seeds by mid-December for the following crop year," Lanclos said, adding that producers now can study the latest information – including the LSU AgCenter’s recommended varieties from commercial trials and the results from these demonstration projects – to make variety selections.
"The selection of a variety to plant is one of the most important production decisions a farmer makes in producing a grain crop, and it is often one that is overlooked," Lanclos said.
To make a variety selection, experts recommend that farmers consult professionals including LSU AgCenter county agents and agribusiness personnel, study production data, consider the soil type and determine the resistance of the variety to insects, diseases and herbicides, Lanclos recommends.
The experts also stress selecting a variety to plant is one of the few decisions farmers make about a crop without being forced to react to elements outside their control – such as weather, prices, insect problems, diseases and, many other environmental issues.
In 2004, grain producers cooperated in these large-scale trials by allowing LSU AgCenter personnel to conduct grain variety demonstrations at 55 sites on more than 300 acres across the state.
"The response by farmers has been outstanding," said LSU AgCenter county agent Keith Collins in Richland Parish, adding that the data collected from the large plots on different farms yields good information about soil types and cultural practices under different farming methods.
These enhanced studies are readily accepted by farmers and industry leaders, because they are larger than traditional research plots and planted on commercial farms throughout the state, experts say.
"We only plant varieties in these replicated core blocks that make the LSU AgCenter recommended list," Lanclos said. "And the recommended varieties have been extensively tested in small plots at research stations in the state for a minimum of two years."
The core blocks planted in the state this year consisted of eight hybrids of grain sorghum, 11 of corn and 24 varieties of soybeans. The core blocks of each crop were replicated at a total of 55 different sites located throughout the grain-producing areas of the state.
Since the varieties in a core block are replicated over a number of locations, the data can be analyzed with statistical validity and data grouped by soil type, planting date, row spacing, plant population, irrigation, region of the state and other cultural practices, experts point out.
Participants in the on-farm variety research trials this year included farmers in the parishes of Acadia, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Caddo, Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, East Carroll, Evangeline, Franklin, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Red River, Point Coupee, Rapides, Richland, St. Landry, Tensas and West Carroll.
"This program is a win-win situation," Lanclos said, adding, "The program depends on the cooperation of farmers, seed companies and county agents and adds a local flavor to research being conducted by LSU AgCenter research stations."
LSU AgCenter experts plan to continue expanding the crop demonstration program for next year.
In 2003, the production of soybeans and other feed grain crops returned more than $537 million dollars to the state’s economy, according to the Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Forestry published by the LSU AgCenter.
For more information on agricultural production and a variety of other topics ranging from nutrition to economic development, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.