In early April, our field research really begins to accelerate. I would like to give a progress report on some of the research projects that I am directly involved in and discuss some interesting new projects that the Agricultural Division initiated this year.
I would have expected to have some preliminary yield data from our 20002001 small grains and ryegrass variety trials by now. However, as most of you in the Oklahoma-Texas region know, this year's fall and winter forage production has been slow. The crops started slowly. Soils were very dry through mid-October in south central Oklahoma. Most of our research plots were dry-seeded in October, the first measurable precipitation came on October 20, and stands emerged around November 1. Ever since the rains started in October, it hasn't quit long enough to dry out. Low temperatures during November and December stunted growth and delayed development of the crops. Our tests have been harvested only once instead of our usual average of three times by this time of year.
First clipping dates were March 6 at the Burneyville Red River Demonstration and Research Farm (RRDRF) and March 16 at the Ardmore Headquarters Farm (HF) for the small-grain variety tests. The ryegrass tests were clipped on March 21 and 22 at the Pasture Demonstration Farm northwest of Ardmore. Muddy fields forced harvest delays of seven to ten days. I have not analyzed the first-harvest data, but preliminary data indicate that production of most of the rye varieties was more than double that of the other crops at all locations at this first clipping.
Since 1990, the Noble Research Institute and Oklahoma State University have run a joint project at the RRDRF to evaluate the effects and benefits of rotating peanuts with corn, grain sorghum, and cotton rather than growing peanuts continually. This long-term study will be discontinued after the 2001 growing season. The plots will have undergone two full six-year cycles of rotation. This study was established on land that had not been planted to peanuts for fourteen years. The first cycle, 19901995, included corn, grain sorghum, and cotton planted according to long-term rotation plans with two peanut varieties, 'Spanco' and 'Okrun'. Since 1995, the experiment has also included fungicide treatments to allow the effects of Bravo alone to be compared with that of Bravo + Folicur across each rotation treatment and variety. Dr. Ron Sholar of Oklahoma State University, the lead investigator in this study, will be summarizing and reporting the results after the 2001 growing season.
Evaluation of bermudagrass varieties has been an integral part of the Noble Research Institute's forage testing program since 1967. However, most of our evaluation has been on vegetatively propagated (sprigged) varieties that are more productive, the most commercially available, and commonly used by producers. Recently there has been increasing interest in establishing bermudagrass from seed rather than sprigs. Seeded varieties are less expensive and can be used on smaller acreages and in some areas where good seedbed preparation for sprigging is not feasible or economical. Several seeded varieties and mixtures of varieties and strains are available.
In May 2000 we initiated a study at Ardmore to compare growth and persistence of ten seeded varieties and mixtures with that of three sprigged varieties, 'Tifton 44', 'Midland 99', and the experimental strain 74X12-6. We anticipate solid stands this spring and will begin harvesting and recording forage yields. We will publish yields and other pertinent information from this study in the near future.
Many of our cooperators have recently inquired about growing summer annual forages (e.g., haygrazer, sudans, and pearl millet) and have asked what varieties are best suited to our environmental conditions. Oklahoma State University and Texas A&M University no longer do this testing, so we have no current information for this region. Perhaps there is more interest this year because winter pasture is less available. At the HF, the Noble Research Institute will initiate a summer annual-forage variety trial this spring (May 2001) on a number of sorghum-sudan, forage sorghum, pearl millet, corn, soybean, and cowpea varieties. The plots will be harvested throughout the summer, as forage is available. We will evaluate forage dry-matter yields, total digestible nutrients, and crude protein content and estimate costs per pound of forage produced. This project will help identify adapted species and varieties for our service area and will be conducted over a two- to three-year period or as long as our producers express an interest.
I would also like to mention that the Noble Research Institute initiated three stocker cattle research projects in the fall and winter of 2000 that should greatly interest many of our cooperators and producers. There are many stocker cattle operations in the foundation's consultation area, and many of these operations retain ownership of their cattle through the growing or finishing phase of production. The projects are briefly described below.
Project 1: This study examines the effect of using alternative stocker-phase feeding programs on cattle performance and carcass merit. The primary objective is to provide information pertaining to the feasibility and economic impact of using soybean hulls in the stocker phase of production. The secondary objective is to determine whether feeding soybean hulls during the stocker phase affects performance traits or carcass characteristics at harvest.
Project 2: The second project looks at the effects of stocker implant programs on stocker performance, carry-over finishing performance, and carcass characteristics of heifers. The objective is to provide information to producers concerning the growth performance effects of multiple implants during the stocker phase of beef production. We also want to provide information on how these implant programs affect performance during the finishing and carcass phases of beef production. The results will complement current data by providing information on how these relationships function in heifers.
Project 3: In this study, we will try to determine the profitability and performance differences caused by variations in frame size and muscular level in stocker cattle. The objective is to provide information to producers concerning net differences in production efficiency and economic factors of three USDA feeder cattle frame scores (large, medium, and small) and two muscle scores (1 and 2), the differences to be measured during both the pasture and finishing phase. At harvest, we will concentrate on comparing differences in carcass quality as they relate to value based on selling live versus on a grid.
All three projects will be repeated over a three-year period. Collaborators are Colorado State University and Oklahoma State University. The Noble Research Institute will publish the results and pertinent information from these studies.