CARRINGTON, N.D. - Farmers looking to reduce the amount of root rot in their field peas or lentils can do so without spending a dime, Michael Wunsch told a group on the agronomy tour at the Carrington Research Extension Center's 60th annual Field Day on Tuesday, July 16.

Wunsch, a plant pathologist at the Carrington REC, explained researchers noticed that the most important factor in the severity of root rot in past studies appeared to be when the crops were planted. Wunsch said researchers found a "perfect linear relationship" between earlier planting and higher yields. By moving planting into late April, producers can reduce root rot without additional spending, Wunsch said, adding that other management strategies, like crop rotations and correct fungicide application, also help.

Wunsch said the Field Day gives researchers the opportunity to deliver their work directly to the people who need it. The event at the Carrington REC was one of many similar events held by North Dakota State University Extension across the state in mid-July.

Greg Lardy, interim director of NDSU Extension, said the field days have been well attended and well received. Such events provide an important opportunity for Extension and research staff to talk to stakeholders. Speaking to the crowd in Carrington, he mentioned the importance of the REC's work.

"The 60th anniversary field day is certainly a milestone and an accomplishment," he said. "Really, this crowd here is a tribute to the impact that this center has had on the region, the community and the agricultural industry throughout this area."

The crowd in Carrington had four options for morning tours: an agronomy tour, a livestock tour, an organic production tour or a fruit tour.

A 'bright spot in ag'

Guy Christiansen with Archer Daniels Midland talks about the growing demand for yellow peas as a protein source.
Guy Christiansen with Archer Daniels Midland talks about the growing demand for yellow peas as a protein source.
Guy Christiansen, a representative of Archer Daniels Midland, talked at a stop on the agronomy tour about his company's pea processing facility in Enderlin, N.D. Yellow peas are an important ingredient in "plant burgers," and the processing plant is working to feed the growing domestic demand for pea protein.

"This is kind of a bright spot in ag," Christiansen said.

He explained the company is looking for clean-looking peas with high protein.

"We're looking at peas really not as a commodity but as an ingredient," he said.

Christiansen said the state's RECs are looking at ways farmers can increase protein. The desire for clean-looking peas and high protein will drive market segmentation in peas, he said. If growers have fields that won't reach the protein sought for the human food market, they still will be able to sell into the veterinary feed market.

Research updates

The agronomy tour took attendees through new or updated information on dry beans, corn, peas, wheat and barley.

Greg Endres, cropping systems specialist, said new research on row spacing and plant populations in dry beans hasn't been conclusive for some types of beans, but the "sweet spot" for Navy beans seems to be 14-inch rows and 115,000 plants per acre.

Mike Ostlie, research agronomist, talked about how using drones to determine where weeds are in corn and spraying only those areas is a promising use of technology. Dave Franzen, soil specialist, explained some fertility needs in corn and barley. In barley, with a switch from six-row to two-row varieties, growers should consider that it takes less nitrogen to reach the same yield potential with two-row barley, he said.

Spring wheat breeder Andrew Green explained it is difficult to get quick information on how new varieties of spring wheat compare to older varieties, so researchers are developing a system similar to the expected progeny differences used in cattle breeding to enable easier, faster comparison.

"It's a way we're trying to get you data quickly," he said.