Michigan organic non-GMO soybean variety trials are available

New factsheet will help soybean farmers wanting to use non-GMO varieties evaluate available private seed dealer varieties and experimental varieties that have not yet been released.

Over the past five-plus years, the majority of field crop farmers have planted GMO crops. An organic farmer cannot plant GMO seeds or use herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. In an attempt to assist organic farmers to find new varieties they can plant to help in pest management (weeds, dseases and insects) and increase yields, the Michigan State University Extension cover crops and field crops teams wrote a grant to The CERES Trust and to North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE). We are excited to announce that these two funding organizations have funded us for six years to evaluate non-GMO soybean varieties for Michigan and north central region organic farmers.

Dr. Dechun Wang, MSU soybean breeder, is working closely with our group and provided 17 MSU varieties to our trial this year. In addition, we had seven private companies and two other universities enter varieties in 2012. We evaluated 51 varieties at four sites across the state, three on organic farms and one on MSU Extension certified organic ground at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS).

Even though the four sites were organically certified, these data could also be used by conventional farmers who do not use GMO soybean seed. The data from these sites have been printed in a factsheet titled “2012 Michigan Organic Soybean Variety Trials.”

In this factsheet, farmers can evaluate both available private seed dealer varieties and experimental varieties that have not been released yet. All varieties were evaluated and tested for yield, average protein, average oil and seed size. All sites used a randomized complete block design with four replication and data were analyzed using AGROBASE Generation II® software from Agronomix Software Inc. in Winnipeg, Canada.

Three field days were conducted in 2012 at the cooperators farms and MSU/KBS. This variety trial will be conducted in 2013, too. Watch MSU Extension Events for field days next summer to see the plots.

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