Alternative Crop Research and Demonstration Tour

Featured Crops: Winter Canola and Winter Barley

When: June 25, 1:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Who: All producers interested in learning about winter canola and winter barley production
Meeting place: MSU Agronomy Farm, at the intersection of Beaumont Road and Farm Lane in East Lansing
Cost: $10.00 
Bring check made out to MSUE or $10 cash since its too late to send it in.

For more info call 676-7207 or e-mail [log in to unmask]
“It was the best of times . . . it was the worst of times . . .” Perhaps that is how you will describe the current agricultural environment to your great-grandchildren. Whether the subject is fuel prices, grain prices, fertilizer prices, or land rent there is an overwhelming sentiment afoot: something has got to give! While we are waiting for something to give, it might pay to scan the horizon for new ideas by attending an afternoon tour that will introduce you to some ‘alternative crops’ that are being evaluated in Ingham County: winter canola and winter barley. These crops will probably not displace large numbers of corn, soybean, and wheat acres in the near future, but it is very possible that well adapted varieties will fit the needs of some producers.

Why would anyone consider planting winter canola? Like all crops, canola is not adapted to all environments or soil types and can offer some challenges. On the other hand, well adapted varieties could offer several benefits:
• Canola is fairly easy to manage, and does not require new equipment.
• Mid-summer harvest improves seasonal work distribution, cash flow, and allows earlier planting of the subsequent winter wheat crop.
• Increased diversity often decreases exposure to risk.
• Winter canola doubles as a winter cover crop, protecting the soil from erosion and scavenging residual nitrogen.
What about winter barley? Why hasn’t it been grown in Michigan to any great extent? 
At least partially because of issues related to poor winter survival. However, there is at least one new variety that survived the winter of 2007 very well in Ingham County (the only place it was planted); whether it can consistently survive our winters remains to be seen.  What we do know is that it requires less nitrogen than wheat and both the silage and the grain can provide very high quality livestock feed and should be ready to harvest by mid-June and early-July, respectively.
Sponsored By Ingham County MSU Extension

Vicki Morrone
Organic Vegetable and Crop Outreach Specialist
Michigan State University
C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems
303 Natural Resources Bldg.
East Lansing, MI 48824
517-282-3557 (cell)
517-353-3834 (fax)
For information on organic agriculture production please visit:
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