Laying the groundwork for a productive growing season: Selecting the appropriate variety or hybrid

To improve field crop production in northern Michigan, Michigan State University Extension is coordinating local variety trials of forage grains, peas, corn and soybean.

Northern variety trial locations.
Northern variety trial locations.

Michigan State University Extension educators in northern Michigan have received grant funding to address variety selection in northern climates. The purpose of these projects is to collect local data on variety performance to enhance local agricultural production. Due to the relatively short growing season and highly variable environmental conditions present across northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, tailored variety recommendations are of the utmost importance. These research projects are targeting three commodities: corn, soybean and forage.

The Upper Peninsula corn hybrid trials is part of the Michigan Corn Performance Trials program, funded by Project GREEEN and MSU Extension. In 2018, we are collaborating with the University of Wisconsin’s Corn Hybrid Trials to include short-season corn hybrids commonly grown in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This research project is taking place on a cooperating farm in Stephenson, Michigan. We are seeking silage and corn grain entries targeting maturity ranges 85-100 and 80-90, respectively. The Corn Marketing Program of Michigan has provided funding to hold a field day at Meintz Dairy Farm on Aug. 28, 2018.

Our soybean variety trial has been funded by the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee to conduct research plots at the Forestry Biomass Innovation Center in Escanaba, Michigan, and on-farm in Hillman, Michigan. We are seeking entries ranging from 0.00 to 1.80 in maturity group. The 0.00–1.0 will be the targeted range for Escanaba and 0.8–1.8 will be the targeted range for Hillman. Herbicide-tolerant and conventional varieties will be accepted, as a conventional herbicide program will be used. A field day will be held Sept. 5, 2018, at the Forestry Biomass Innovation Center to highlight this project.

Our pea/small grain variety trial, funded by Project GREEEN and MSU Extension, is taking place at the Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center in Chatham, Michigan. Forage peas paired with various varieties of either oats or triticale will be assessed as an annual forage crop. This research project is an extension of our previous work completed in 2017, highlighted in “Pea and oat trial in Upper Peninsula completed – Part 2: Feed quality.” A forage field day highlighting this research project and other forage related projects, including cover cropping, will be June 13, 2018, at Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center.

Observations of emergence, plant stand, vigor, pest damage and environmental conditions will be collected during the growing season. Yield and moisture data will be collected at maturity. Summaries of all three trials will be made available through educational outlets including the MSU Extension Field Crops website, newsletters and social media.

Summer field days will be held at all trial locations during the summer of 2018 to educate producers on production, management and variety performance for northern Michigan. By collaborating with growers, MSU Extension researchers and educators, and agribusinesses, we are strengthening our agricultural industry in northern Michigan.

Please consider submitting your corn, soybean and pea/small grain seed before March 15, 2018, for inclusion in our trials. We are limiting the number of entries per company to four per trial. We are requesting the customary 10-pound sample bag (2,000 kernel minimum for corn) per entry for the corn and soybean trials and a 5-pound bag for both the pea and small grain per entry.

For more information on the requirements for variety entries, please contact Monica Jean at or 906-786-3032.

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