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Forage Variety Production Notes

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Bermudagrass Evaluations
This report includes a brief production update on two bermudagrass trials conducted by the Noble Research Institute in 2002. The "old" variety test, established in May 1996, just concluded the seventh year of production and includes 11 sprigged varieties or experimental strains. In May 2000, a "new" test was initiated at Ardmore to compare the growth and persistence of 10 seeded varieties and mixtures with that of three benchmark sprigged varieties, Tifton 44, Midland 99 and Ozarka. The tests were each clipped five times during the growing season (Tables 1 and 2). Moisture distribution and temperatures were good throughout most of the growing season and supported excellent forage yields. Dry weather in late September and early October did limit late-season fall production somewhat.

Table 1 shows the forage distribution and total production in dry pounds per acre for each entry in the "old" test. The total average forage yield of 10,094 pounds per acre for the 11 entries was the highest recorded since the test was established. The two new varieties, Midland 99 and Ozarka, were the most consistent forage producers throughout the growing season. Tifton 85 started slow in the spring but recovered and was the most productive during June, July and August. Jiggs had the slowest spring vigor and production was curtailed throughout most of the season. The stands of this variety appear to be the weakest in the test and seem to be declining with each season of production.

Total production accumulated for each entry of the "new" test is shown in Table 2. Total forage yields averaged 9,411 pounds per acre for the 13 entries, which was 42 percent more than last year (the first year of production). Again this year, the sprigged types, Ozarka and Midland 99, out-yielded all of the seeded varieties in the test. The two-seeded varietal mixtures (Mirage/Vaquero and Ranchero Frio) and Giant were more productive than the other pure-seeded varieties. Wrangler, Cheyenne and Guymon were very productive from May through July, but yields dropped sharply as the season progressed. Except for Giant, the varietal mixtures maintained more consistent yields throughout the entire growing season than the other pure-seeded varieties.

Cool Season Variety Plantings
Early-planted small grains are generally off to a good start this fall. However, October plantings are struggling to develop stands because of a prolonged period of cool, rainy and cloudy weather after planting.

Small grain varieties and strains were planted at both the Headquarters Farm (HQF) and the Red River Demonstration and Research Farm in mid-September. This year, 72 entries will be evaluated for grain production, and all entries will be harvested throughout the growing season for forage yield comparisons. The tests include 12 oat, 21 wheat, 15 triticale and 24 rye varieties, and experimental strains. An October-planted variety test was also planted at both locations and includes 12 entries. The two tests include common entries so that we can compare planting dates for both forage and grain yields.

Thirty-six ryegrass varieties and strains will be evaluated for forage production during the 2002-2003 season at the Pasture Demonstration Farm. The fall growing season this year certainly has been more desirable than the past two years at this location. We have an excellent moisture situation with good stands and the potential for good forage production is very favorable at this time.

This fall, in collaboration with Dr. Andy Hopkins of the Foundation's Forage Biotechnology Group, we have established a cool-season perennial forage grass trial on the HQF. The trial will consist of 11 grasses, including some that have not been tested previously at this location. The entries include Luna pubescent wheatgrass, Manska pubescent wheatgrass, Jose tall wheatgrass, Barton western wheatgrass, Hycrest crested wheatgrass, Kentucky 31 (E+) tall fescue, Jesup MaxQ tall fescue, Dovey (E-) tall fescue, Paiute orchardgrass, Bozoisky Russian wildrye and Lincoln smooth bromegrass. In addition to gathering agronomic data from these plots over a period of years, they will be utilized for educational events sponsored by the Foundation.