USDA Geneticist Stresses Importance of Developing Crops Resistant to Certain Herbicides -- “ ‘If scientists could develop crops that are resistant to certain herbicides, more complete weed control, increased yields, and reduced consumer prices for food would result,’ says USDA plant geneticist Garry A. Smith. . . .
“Smith found in a 2-year study that 15 lines of sugarbeets were not equally injured by herbicides. There appears to be a genetic difference in some varieties that gives them more protection from the harmful effects of herbicides. Other researchers have reported similar responses in corn, sorghum, flax, barley, wheat, sugarcane, cabbage, soybeans, and potatoes.
“ ‘We might be able to identify the nature of this resistance present in some beets and cross these plants with commercially valuable varieties so that the resulting offspring will be more resistant,’ says Smith, with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Fort Collins, Colo.
“Smith checked 15 sugarbeet populations: five inbred lines, five first generation hybrids, and five commercial varieties. Both pre- and postemergence herbicides affected the population groups, with inbreds being the most affected and commercial varieties the least.”
Ag News / Study on Irrigation Volume -- “It’s been suspected for quite a while now that many crops are over-irrigated, a costly luxury at a time when water for irrigation is becoming limited and expensive. An ARS soil scientist has proven that sugarbeets are routinely over-irrigated, and his findings hold bright implications for a beleaguered U.S. sugarbeet industry.
“John N. Carter at ARS’s Snake River Conservation Research Center, Kimberly, Idaho, working with Del J. Traveller, an agronomist with the Amalgamated Sugar Co., Twin Falls, Idaho, has demonstrated that very little if any sucrose yield is lost when sugarbeet irrigations are discontinued after August 1 — about 3 months early — providing that the soil profile is filled with water when irrigation is cut off. . . .
“In their 2-year study to learn the effects of mid- to late-season water stress on sugarbeet growth and yield, Carter and Traveller grew sugarbeets under normal irrigation until August 1, and then limited water on some of their test plots. Periodically during each growing season, they measured sucrose concentration, sucrose yield, plant nitrogen uptake, and leaf growth. After harvest at the end of October, the researchers measured total sucrose production.
“ ‘Sucrose production was scarcely affected, even when we used only 70 percent of the total irrigation water normally applied [during] a growing season’ says Carter.
“ ‘Before discontinuing irrigation,’ he says, ‘the soil profile should be filled with water to a depth of 64 inches, and the available soil water should be equivalent to at least 8 inches. During dry years, it may be advantageous to apply a light irrigation about 1 month after the water cutoff,’ he adds. ‘Also, the soil should be wet enough at harvest to prevent roots from breaking.’ ”
Subsoil Nitrogen — A Curse or a Blessing? / Crystal Ag Notes — “Does it pay to test for subsoil N? Yes, it does! Nearly 60 percent of the total harvested acres in the [Red River] Valley are high-nitrate-low-quality beets. If we’re going to put high-nitrate beets in REVERSE, we’re going to have to look DEEPER to find the solution to the quality problem. If you are not presently soil testing to 4 feet, consider it if:
“1. Your sugar content is consistently below the Red River Valley average.
“2. Your sugar loss to molasses is 2.20 percent or more.
“3. Your nitrate grade of beets at harvest (shown on the beet delivery statement) is consistently 5.0 or more.
“These are the telltale signs! The nitrate grade is a reliable indicator because the nitrates in the beet had to come from the nitrates in the soil.”
Severe Outbreak of Cercospora Disease Likely for 1982 in the Red River Valley — “Red River Valley beet growers attending three area seminars on 1982 plans got a sobering warning from Allan Cattanach, extension sugarbeet specialist.
“A severe outbreak of Cercospora, a fungus disease, is likely in the Red River Valley this year. The disease, which attacks the foliage of the beet, hit hard in the Renville, Minnesota, district in 1981. ‘Cercospora cost growers with the Southern Minnesota Sugar Cooperative from $100 to $110 an acre last year,’ Cattanach said. ‘In our own area, some growers suffered a $50 an acre loss.’
“He said the disease, which thrives in warm, wet weather, cost from two to three tons per acre in southern Minnesota fields, with a 1 to 1.5 percent sugar loss and up to 3 percent in some fields. No grower escaped. . . .
“About one-half of the seed used in the industry is not resistant to the disease . . .
“ ‘Practice variety rotation and extend the rotations over a time period,’ Cattanach advised. ‘Don’t plant fields adjacent to infected fields. Return tare dirt to infected fields only. Deeper primary tillage can remove or bury the inoculum.’
“He said resistant varieties have less yield potential, so he suggested that growers plant a moderately resistant variety with a good spray plan, striking a balance between high yield and cost of production. ‘A July 1-10 date is one to consider for your spray plan,’ he added.”