Local Farmers have a Field Day

Farmers from all over the surrounding area gathered at Hettinger’s NDSU Extension Center’s annual Field Day this week for a look at the latest local crop research.

Frank Turner

Research Agronomist John Rickertson showcased different crop types and variants to show what crops have been growing best in the Adams County region.
Rickertson explained, “We are basically just giving people an overview of what research we are doing at the agronomy research station. People want to know what works best here.”
During the field day, producers got to see up close and in person exactly what experimental trials are working best close to home. Rickertson explained that what grows well in Fargo and Bismarck might not grow well in Adams County.
“That’s how our research stations are set up,” said Rickertson. “We are set up as these regional centers to work with people coming in from all over the area.”
At the field day, Rickertson showed off different varieties of barley, spring wheat, field peas, andhemp.
Rickertson explained that a variant is a breed of crop that has been bred over many generations and selected for certain traits like higher yield, disease resistance, and protein abundance.
“It’s genetics,” said Rickertson. “It’s just like eye or hair color. For example, industrial hemp is cannabis, the same stuff that people smoke, however industrial hemp has all the THC bred out.“
According to Rickertson, NDSU does quality analysis on different variants of the same crop to see which breed consistently performs the best for what the producer is looking for.
Rickertson said that every year, the research station is consistently testing more variants. As the research station researches more variants, they are hoping to find the best performing breed.
Even if there is an exciting new variant, Rickertson said that it takes over three years to really know if a crop can consistently perform well in the area.
“We are looking to see variants that perform well over many years,” said Rickertson. “We also like to look at more than just Hettinger. We look at the western sites to make sure the varieties work over a broad area.”
One of the new crops that were showcased at the field day was industrial hemp. Rickertson said that he is interested to see if a market develops in North Dakota for growing industrial hemp.
“Hemp has received a fair amount of interest,” said Rickertson. “That’s something that would fit out here, but I have concerns that if we have drought, that it might not do too well.”
Rickertson said that hemp offers a lot of possibilities on the market.
“Hemp is just another option,” he said. “Right now there isn’t a whole lot of demand for industrial hemp, but it has a lot of application.”
Regardless of what producers decide to plant, the point of the field day is to give farmers an understanding of what is available and what works in Adams County.
Despite some rainy weather, Rickertson said that the Field Day was a success.
“I was very pleased with the attendance,” he said. “We had one of our best turnouts in while.”