New Liskeard Agricultural Research Station

FALL 2007

Winter Wheat Test at New Liskeard Agricultural

Research Station

John Rowsell and John Kobbler– NLARS

We invited sponsors, distributors and breeders to enter up to 3 lines each into a winter wheat comparison test at New Liskeard. We seeded 19 winter wheats and 1 spring wheat on September 16, 2006 (more on the rationale for including a spring wheat will follow). Some of the entries have not yet been registered and are not for sale. These were placed in the test so that their potential under our climatic conditions could be assessed.

No herbicide was used on this test since the wheat had very good ground cover before the spring annual weeds could get established. We fertilized with 70kgN/ha very early in the spring.

All of the entries except one winter wheat and the spring wheat (AC Taho) had survival in excess of 50%. Of these 18remaining varieties, yield was not correlated with winter survival scores based on visual ratings (0-100%; r2=0.13, P>F=0.14) or spring vigor ratings (1-9, 1 being lowest vigor; r2=0.05, P>F=0.38).

Yields were respectable with an average of 6147kg/ha (2.5t/ac) and the coefficient of variability (c.v.) of the test was very good (7.75%). It is a measure of how much variability there is in yields that is not caused by the varieties. Varieties must differ in this test by at least 676 kg/ha to be truly different at the 5% error level(LSD 0.05%). The test weights were also good, averaging 78.6 kg/hl (61.6lb/bu).

We included one spring wheat in the test to see if it would survive the winter. There has been some speculation that it might, and this is the subject the graduate work of one University of Guelph Ph.D. candidate.

Winter wheat yields are normally greater that those of spring wheat. This is not surprising since the winter wheat varieties in this test matured 316 days on average after planting whereas spring wheat normally matures in less than 120 days from planting.

There was very little disease in the test. The conditions at anthesis were near optimal for the onset of fusarium; however, only a few infected heads were noted in each plot.

For more information on winter wheat varieties, including the names of the distributors of these varities, please visit the new web site for the Ontario Cereal Crops Committee http://www.gocereals.ca (John Rowsell is the secretary of OCCC).

FALL 2007

NLARS Expanding Its Strawberry Research

Becky Hughes– NLARS

The New Liskeard Agricultural Research Station (NLARS) is expanding its research in dayneutral strawberries as part of a project to develop extended season strawberries in eastern North America. The University of Guelph has received funding from the Agricultural Adaptation Council’s CanAdvance Program and the Ontario Berry Growers Association for this three year project. Research will be conducted at three University of Guelph research stations, Cedar Springs, New Liskeard and Simcoe, and at the University of Florida’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida.

Dayneutral strawberries offer Ontarioproducers a chance to produce fresh local strawberries six months of the year. There are currently several limitations to dayneutral production in Ontario and this project focuses on a number of these. In the short term, producers will have to modify their production practices with existing varieties to extend the harvest season. In the long term, Canadian-adapted varieties and propagation systems are required for this industry to develop.

NLARS will be involved in all phases of this project. NLARS and Ridgetown’s Cedar Springs research station will investigate improved production systems for the dayneutral cultivar ‘Seascape’. Seedpropagated dayneutrals will be evaluated for their local and broad adaptability at all three University of Guelph sites, grower locations in Ontario, Manitoba and Florida, and at the Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center. Research to develop plug production systems for the different growing areas will be conducted at New Liskeard, Simcoe and Balm, FL.

With increasing consumer interest in buying local, producers across Ontario are showing more interest in producing dayneutral strawberries. This research aims to help this industry develop both in the short and long term.

SPRING 2007

Hybrid Poplar at NLARS

John Rowsell and John Kobler– Northern Stations, University of Guelph

If you are driving east on Hwy 65, you will notice about 10 acres of bare ground with some small trees planted in it. We have established a hybrid poplar clone site trial in conjunction with the University du Quebec en Abitibi-Temiscamingue (UQAT) and Forestry Research Partnerships (FRP).

Hybrids are created by crossing two species of the genus Populus that do not normally interbreed, such as Populus nigra (Lombardi Poplar) and Populus deltoides (Eastern Cottonwood). Crossing two species can result in trees that grow very rapidly, and may reach harvest diameters in 15 -20 years in our climate, 7-8 years in Oregon. Fast growing strains of these hybrids are referred to as ‘clones’ because they are produced by cuttings rather than seed, and are genetically identical to the tree from which they came. They are not genetically modified.

There is renewed interest in hybrid poplar. Its is seen as a potential source of fiber for the forest products industry, as a renewable source of ‘hog’ fuel for co-generation plants, as a potential source of feedstock for cellulose-based ethanol production, and as a good sinc for carbon dioxide thereby helping to fight global warming. Much work was done on hybrid poplar by MNR and the University of Toronto about 20-30 years ago. Interest waned because many of the clones developed at the time were not very winter hardy.

We established plantations at our research stations in Thunder Bay and Emo in 1999, and in Emo in 2002-2004. The results have been disappointing. These trees are very fussy. They need lots of moisture, but not too much. They do not compete well with weeds for water and nutrients, and require warm soils to develop their root systems; hence, recommendations call for bare ground to be maintained until the tree’s canopy closes and shades the ground (5 years). They are also delicious to deer (eat the tops), mice and rabbits (girdle the trunks) and tent caterpillars (eat the leaves).

So, why are we trying them here in New Liskeard? There has been a lot of work done recently to develop hardier material. Our partners at UQAT and FRP have a great deal of expertise in this area. We are evaluating 18 clones in the trial. Some started as cuttings, some as rooted stalk.

The trial has 3 replications and the clones are randomized within each replicate so we can deal with effects of location on tree performance. The trees at NLARS are planted in a grid 12.5’ apart so we can get between them with our cultivation equipment to maintain bare ground.

Northern Ontario has large quantities of underutilized private land that may be suited to production of hybrid poplar.They could be considered as a long-rotation crop for northern farms. We are working to identify the clones that will survive and then develop management techniques that are practical.

FALL 2006

Winter Wheat and Spring Wheat Sown in the Fall

John Rowsell, John Kobler, and Matt Bowman

New Liskeard Agricultural Research Station

The winter wheat performance test seeded August 24, 2005 at NLARS produced some very good results. Survival scores on individual plots ranged from a low of 50% to 100% and spring vigor score ranged from 3-9 on a scale of 1-9 , 9 being the best. Most plots ranked at the top of the both scales with local variability being more important than variety. The ranges at the research station have very slight slope. All plots received 70kg of N in May.

We have again seeded a winter wheat trial at NLARS on September 15, 2006. This is later than we would normally have liked; however, the wheat is up and looking quite good. We included one spring wheat in the test (yes, spring). We have also seeded a test this fall entirely consisting of spring wheat varieties. Some producers have tried very late seeding of spring wheat in the hopes that germination will occur in the spring. This scheme is different in that our goal is to have the spring wheat up and established before the winter. Fall conditions may keep some of the lines in the vegetative state.

We have been operating the Verner Test Site since 1988 on the farm of Roger Leblanc and his successor, Rene Leblanc.The site was located between Hwy 17 and Gingras Ave. We will be moving to a new spot in the Verner area in 2007. We thank Roger and Rene for their willingness to accommodate us, the West Nipissing Soil and Crop Improvement Association for their support, and particularly Gerald Beaudry for being our eyes and ears in Verner.

John Kobler became the Agronomy Technician in April of 2006. John came to us from Kapuskasing Experimental Farm and the General Motors Cold Weather Development Centre. We’d like to thank Matt Bowman for his years of service. We know that Matt will continue to play an important role in research in northern Ontario through his involvement in the many organizations to which he belongs and as a result of his own curiosity.

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