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LAS CRUCES - The Internet boom continues to take root in farming. For the first time, New Mexico State University scientists are putting results of their annual corn and sorghum performance trials online for the state's farmers.
"Many farmers are in the process of finalizing their planting decisions for the upcoming growing season," said Rex Kirksey, superintendent of NMSU's Agricultural Science Centers at Tucumcari and Clovis. "This is particularly true for our dryland producers who are waiting to see what the weather conditions are. We've gotten good moisture in the last few days, and now some growers may be looking at longer season varieties that have higher yield potentials."
The annual performance tests are conducted throughout the state as part of an ongoing effort to provide farmers with an unbiased source of data on yield and quality potential of corn and sorghum varieties, Kirksey said. "We're providing this information in the fastest possible way so that growers can make better, more informed choices about the varieties they're planting," he said.
The trials are conducted at NMSU's agricultural science centers in Artesia, Clovis, Farmington, Los Lunas and Tucumcari.
In a typical variety trial, seed companies from across the nation provide entries of those seeds they believe are best suited to New Mexico's growing conditions, he said. Sample varieties are then planted in side-by-side experimental research plots where the plants receive identical irrigation, fertilizer and herbicide applications.
"It's essential that we provide uniform testing conditions, so that we can compare them accurately against each other," Kirksey said. "Ultimately, we don't make specific recommendations. We just present the data on the highest to lowest yields, and then producers can take that information into account as they make their individual planting decisions."
Variety productivity is evaluated at harvest. Grain crops are harvested either by hand or using a small plot combine, and those harvested weights are converted to per acre equivalents. In addition, NMSU researchers perform quality evaluations on the harvested grain.
For the forage trials on corn, sorghum and sudan grasses, plots are harvested, tallied for green weight, and then oven dried to determine dry matter content. Samples are then sent to commercial laboratories for nutrient analysis.
The information is available on each of the science center's individual Web sites, or by going directly to the "New Mexico 2003 Corn and Sorghum Performance Tests" at http://cahe.nmsu.edu/docs/03_perf_rpt.pdf. The report is available online in Adobe Systems' Portable Document Format or PDF format, so that users can print their own copies. For more information or questions about the performance test, contact Kirksey at (505) 985-2292.
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