Demonstration plots of new soybean and wheat varieties along with new corn hybrids is a tradition that would make Seaman Knapp proud. Knapp, considered the father of the extension service, was a firm believer in showing farmers the potential of new seeds on the land they farmed.
Dan Fromme, David Moseley and Boyd Padgett are responsible for conducting core block trials across the state. With the help of area extension agents and cooperating farmers, these trials are grown across a wide array of soil types and agronomic practices.
Fromme, the state corn specialist, has 14 locations for his trials. “We typically plant eight hybrids at our sites,” Fromme said. “We then compare the yields of these hybrids to the grower’s standard hybrid to see the differences.”
Yield is a common variable all of the trials use, but there are some other factors that are measured.
Moseley, the state soybean specialist, has 18 variety trials statewide. Again, yield is most important, but he has an interest in other traits, such as plant height and lodging, to further evaluate the adaptability of each variety across different environments.
Padgett, the interim state wheat specialist, has three locations for his research trials.
“Interest in growing wheat has really waned during the past five years,” Padgett said. “Disease issues related to scab have discouraged growers from planting wheat, so we have been limited to our locations to conduct these trials.”
Because of scab, much of Padgett’s work is looking at the prevalence of the disease in plots located on research stations. Fungicides are being studied for their effectiveness by pathologists, which include Padgett and Trey Price at the Macon Ridge Research Station in Winnsboro.
Variety trials have been a tradition of extension research for more than a century. And as long as seed companies continue to develop new varieties and hybrids, the AgCenter will continue to conduct them at farms across Louisiana.
This story is featured in the Louisiana Soybean and Grain Research and Promotion Board 2020 Report.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture