MINOT, ND — As an icy wind blows snow outside, plants ranging from legumes to wild oats to hemp bloom in the climate-controlled greenhouse at the North Central Research Extension Center in Minot.
The greenhouse, built in 2007, allows researchers to conduct research and grow crops – and weeds – year-round. The building, which was funded by public and private donations, is located on a 1,500-acre site one mile south of Minot.
Minot’s North Central Research Extension Center, like other extension centers in North Dakota, conducts research on crops commonly grown in its area. The Minot center is unique because it is located in an area of North Dakota that is a “transition zone” where farmers use both conventional and no-till tillage methods. This contrasts with the east side of the state where they practice conventional tillage and the west side, which is mostly no-till, said NCREC director Shana Forster.
Farmers in north-central North Dakota grow a wide variety of crops, including specialty crops such as edible beans, peas, crambe, lentils, in addition to small grains. The herbicide research by NCREC weed specialist Brian Jenks reflects the mix of crops grown in the north-central region of North Dakota, Forster said.
“He’s pretty aware of how the residual chemicals get passed down,” she said.
The greenhouse allows Jenks to carry out large research projects, he said.
“That’s been a big advantage because we can do big projects here, from weed resistance to projects where we’re evaluating crop tolerance to different herbicides,” Jenks said.
Jenks, for example, tests year-round to determine if wild oats have become resistant to Roundup. Pots of wild oats, both healthy and in various states of decline after being sprayed with Roundup, sat on tables in the NCREC greenhouse in late January. So far, stress test results have been negative.
Farmers provide the samples from wild oats, which have become more invasive over the past decade, and, particularly, in the northeast, Jenks said.
“Wild oats really like wet conditions. It’s a problem every year,” he said. “The worst thing you can do is grow the same crop rotation.”
In addition to herbicide resistance testing, Jenks is also studying whether herbicide resistance develops in other weeds, such as foxtail, after prolonged periods of use.
“Puma was one of the first herbicides. We’ve been using it for decades. That’s why we’re seeing resistance,” Jenks said.
Meanwhile, weed resistance to Group 2 herbicides, which are ALS/AHAS inhibitors,
has also become mainstream, he said.
Weed seedlings, which are used for plant identification in a traveling school held throughout North Dakota, are also grown in the extension center’s greenhouse.
Plants, including legumes and grapes, are started in the greenhouse, Forster said. The basic vine plants are transplanted into the NCREC vineyard.
Outside of the greenhouse, most of the NCREC’s acreage is used for foundation seed production, Forster said.
“We grow soybeans, durum wheat, hard red spring wheat, flax, field peas, barley, oats,” she said. “It represents what is grown locally.”
The center sells varieties of basic barley, durum wheat, flax, durum wheat, red spring wheat, oats, peas and soybeans.