Research tour, public forum slated at Saginaw Valley center

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FRANKENMUTH, Mich. – The MSU Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center will host its annual field day and research tour Aug. 21 beginning at 9 a.m. Topics of discussion include sugar beets, dry edible beans and other crops studied in the Saginaw Valley region.

Tour participants will be transported by wagon to various research plots, where MSU researchers and extension educators will present information on topics from variety development to insect control.

MSU Extension specialist Steven Poindexter said the event provides an opportunity for producers and agribusiness representatives to discuss current production issues with researchers and future efforts with College of Agriculture and Natural Resources leaders.

Kurt Steinke, professor of plant, soil and microbial sciences, will speak about soil fertility and nutrient management strategies in sugar beet production. Michigan is one of the top three sugar beet producers in the United States.

“Unlike other sugar beet producing regions, we grow most of our beet acreage on non-irrigated, low organic matter soils, allowing soil fertility to have a much larger impact on overall beet production,” Steinke said. “When it comes to soil fertility, many growers focus solely on total nutrient application rates. In reality, management – and more specifically, application timing and placement – play as great if not a greater role than total application rates.”

Chris Difonzo, professor of entomology, will talk about soybean aphids and other insects and particularly  about using population thresholds to determine the need for control.

“Insurance sprays are costly, kill natural enemies and lead to pesticide resistance,” said Difonzo, also an MSU Extension specialist. “Michigan’s diverse cropping base and landscape give us advantages in natural control of pests. We do not want to get on a pesticide treadmill that will only lead to problems in the future.”

James Kelly, university distinguished professor of plant, soil and microbial sciences and MSU Extension specialist, will discuss new bean varieties.

“My goal is to help growers in selecting the best bean varieties for their farms. Each variety has different characteristics that can affect production, quality, etc.,” Kelly said. “The importance of doing this at the research tour is that growers can actually see what new types are available and how they look and are grown on individual farms.”

Following the informational sessions, attendees will have the opportunity to discuss various topics of interest with Fred Poston, MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources dean, and Kelly Millenbah, associate dean and director of academic and student affairs, along with MSU AgBioResearch Director Doug Buhler and MSU Extension Director Tom Coon. This open forum, called “What’s Now? What’s Next?”, is aimed at providing attendees a chance to provide input  on how the CANR can continue to help move Michigan agriculture forward through research, education and outreach. The session runs from 12 to 2 p.m. 

Registration for the tour is $20 per person and begins at 8 a.m. The “What’s Now? What’s Next?” portion of the event is free.

For more information, see the Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center event.

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MSU AgBioResearch engages in innovative, leading-edge research that combines scientific expertise with practical experience to generate economic prosperity, sustain natural resources and enhance the quality of life in Michigan, the nation and the world. It encompasses the work of more than 300 scientists in seven MSU colleges—Agriculture and Natural Resources, Arts and Letters, Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Natural Science, Social Science and Veterinary Medicine—and has a network of 13 research centers across the state.

Since its beginning, Michigan State University Extension, (MSUE) has focused on bringing knowledge-based educational programs to the people of the state to improve lives and communities. Staff members, in concert with on-campus faculty members, serve Michigan citizens with programming in food and agriculture production, nutrition and food safety, community and natural resources development, youth development and renewable energy. Today, MSUE’s goal remains the same: To give Michigan residents meaningful access to the latest life-changing research.

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