Thursday, November 2, 2017

Comprehensive agronomic crop bulletin published

The Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station published a 252-page bulletin with information about agronomic crops it tested between 1978 and 2012.

Agronomists Bob Van Veldhuizen, Mingchu Zhang and Charles Knight are the authors of AFES Bulletin 116, “Performance of Agronomic Crop Varieties in Alaska 1978-2012.” The bulletin updates AFES Bulletin 111, which was published in 2004. The new bulletin includes additional information on crops tested since 2002 and adds six new crops: quinoa, chickpeas, mustard, camelina, crambe and borage.

Other varieties tested include barley, oats, wheat, rye and triticale, wild rice, canarygrass, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, field peas, canola, flax, sunflower, safflower, meadowfoam and Jerusalem artichoke.

Zhang describes the bulletin as “a starting point for farmers to look at if they are considering growing an agronomic crop.”

The bulletin is not intended as a crop production manual, he said. Its main purpose is to provide basic information on small grain and oilseed variety testing along with information on successful cultural practices identified by the research.

Bob Van Veldhuizen said the target audience is anyone in Alaska who might be interested in growing any of the crops or varieties listed. The bulletin describes production methods on a per-acre basis but the principles can be modified for small-scale production, he said.

The bulletin also includes any analyses that were done to determine the nutritional qualities of the crops, and their suitability for animal feed or in human diets. Van Veldhuizen said that information has been requested since the first version of the bulletin came out in 2004.

Specific crops are presented in separate chapters with information on fertilization, tillage, planting, pest control, diseases, harvest, and storage, and tables that list yields, maturity and quality for all known varieties tested at each location. References and seed sources for all recommended varieties are included in separate appendices. Variety trials took place at the Fairbanks and Matanuska experiment farms, at the Eielson Agricultural Project and in the Delta Junction area.

A 48-page supplement with details about variety trials in Fairbanks, “Agronomic Crop Variety Testing in Fairbanks, Alaska 1948-2013,” has also been published. Van Veldhuizen said the supplement includes the work of agronomists prior to the beginning of the time frame of Bulletin 116, from 1948 to 1978, as well as the crops and varieties tested after 1978. Van Veldhuizen said that the goal was to compile all the lists of crops and varieties tested in Fairbanks into one publication that would be available to anyone.

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