What is in this article?:
- Ag research farm sought for unique Northeast Texas conditions
- Consistency is needed
- Northeast and Central Texas farmers lost a valuable resource that had been geared to the unique soils and climate conditions of their region.
- Research and variety trials have been scattered across the region.
- Northeast Texas farmers say they need a farm.
TEST PLOTS for variety trials, resistant weed management, fertility and other issues need consistency to provide accurate data.
When the Texas A&M Agricultural Experiment Station at Prosper, Texas, converted from agriculture to turf and ornamental research about five years ago, Northeast and Central Texas farmers lost a valuable resource that had been geared to the unique soils and climate conditions of their region.
Farmers say the small grains variety trials (especially for wheat), fertility studies and research on herbicide resistant Italian ryegrass, among other projects, had provided essential information to help them make production decisions.
Since the center converted to urban agriculture, research and variety trials have been scattered across the region—on leased acreage, cooperator fields and wherever scientists could find a spot with the right conditions to install research plots.
Northeast Texas farmers say they need a farm.
That’s why a group of farmers and ag business leaders, spearheaded by Cereal Crops Research Incorporated (CCRI), has begun work to bring a research farm back to the region under the auspices of Texas A&M-Commerce, with support from Texas A&M University at College Station.
CCRI is a farmer-based organization that suggests and helps fund research for Northeast Texas agriculture. Over the past 25 years, the organization has contributed more than $1 million to ag research for Northeast Texas. They would like to do more.
“We no longer have an ag research location in Northeast Texas. That’s the biggest absence farmers in this area feel,” says Ben Scholz, CCRI president and a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M-Commerce.
“We lost ag research at Prosper at least five years ago, where they were doing small grain evaluations as well as work on corn and grain sorghum and resistant weeds. Now, we have no permanent site but are renting and borrowing locations across Northeast Texas. We need a location to provide consistency for research into cotton, grains, forages and specialty crops like viticulture and vegetables.”
Eric Akins, a grain farmer near Van Alstyne, Texas, says area farmers received significant benefits from research and field days once held at the Prosper station. “We got a lot of variety information from work at Prosper,” he said. “They also did fertility research.”
Those soil nutrient evaluations require multiple years of trials on the same plots. “Consistency is essential,” he added.
Kenneth Griffin, a Gunter, Texas, grain farmer, agrees. “We need to look at all types of fertility issues—foliar, everything—so we need consistency.”
The same is true for herbicide resistance evaluations. The area has had severe infestations of herbicide resistant Italian ryegrass. “Researchers can’t spread resistant ryegrass across a cooperator’s farm,” says David Smith, who manages a nearby grain elevator.