A preview of the 2011 TARE plots

Field crops educators in the Thumb and Saginaw Valley are establishing plots to evaluate corn and soybean varieties and agronomic practices.

MSU Extension field crops educators in the tri-county Thumb area have worked together to establish on-farm corn and soybean trials for the past 10 years. The 2011 year marks the seventh season that the project has been formalized under the Thumb Ag Research and Education (TARE) umbrella, and the third year to include Saginaw, Lapeer and St. Clair counties.

The TARE group establishes plots with our own six-row planter. Plots are harvested in the fall with an owned combine which has been modified with a weigh system. Each study plot is 15 feet wide by 100 feet long. In addition to repeating studies at several sites across the area, each study is replicated four times at each site. A committee of farmers and agri-business representatives offers support and guidance for the project throughout the year.

This spring has, of course, been cursed with soggy weather. We’ve dodged a few of the rain drops and as of today (May 26), five of six planned corn plots and one of the four planned soybean plots have been established in the greater Thumb area. This season we will evaluate 112 corn hybrids under 18 brand names in three maturity groups, and one refuge (non-Bt) group; we will evaluate 79 soybean varieties under 13 brand names in two maturity groups and one conventional (non-Roundup Ready) group.

In addition to the variety plots, we have traditionally evaluated a number of agronomic practices as well. Agronomic practices on corn this season include nitrogen application rate trials, slow-release nitrogen trials, Accolade growth enhancer evaluation, a fungicide study and a population trial evaluating different ear types.

Soybean agronomic studies include Primo growth enhancer, a population study, a foliar fertilizer study, and a “step-up” study where fungicide, foliar feed, and pop-up fertilizer treatments are evaluated separately and also together.

I would like to thank our participating seed companies, local agri-businesses, the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan, the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, and the MSUE Director’s office for your support. Without your support, this project would not be possible.

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