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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Soil Management Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Identify and develop new and alternative crops and cropping strategies for the northern U.S. • Sub-objective 1-1. Identify best adapted species/genotypes of new, alternative, and traditional crops for biofuels and bioproducts production in northern climates. • Sub-objective 1-2. Develop innovative, and improve existing strategies for managing new, alternative, and traditional crops. • Sub-objective 1-3. Determine environmental limitations on growth, development, and seed oil and nutritional quality of new, alternative, and traditional crops. Objective 2: Develop new strategies and decision aids to improve and increase the efficiency of weed management. • Sub-objective 2-1. Develop biological models of important invasive and prominent weeds, stressing critical life history events. • Sub-objective 2-2. Develop and improve weed management models. • Sub-objective 2-3. Explore feasibilities of entirely new strategies of managing weeds, focusing on increasing research on biologically-based integrated weed management.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Two mutually supporting approaches will be taken to meet our objectives. The first involves a series of field studies to identify new (e.g. cuphea, pennycress, and bifora) and alternative crop genotypes (e.g. camelina and calendula), develop practices to manage them, and use these crops along with traditional crops to develop alternative strategies (double- and relay-cropping) to add innovative economic and environmental benefits. Additionally, controlled-environment and field experiments will be conducted to determine environmental limitations (e.g. water and soil and air temperature) to growth of new and alternative crops. The second approach involves the integration of field and controlled-environment experiments of weed growth and development, innovative weed control methods, and computer modeling to develop decision support aids to efficiently and effectively manage weeds in cropping systems that include new and alternative, as well as traditional crops. Together the outcomes of this research will provide clientele with new knowledge, crops, and management tools to increase cropping efficiency and diversity in northern climates.

3. Progress Report:
We worked on two primary objectives: 1) identify new and alternative crops and develop cropping strategies to integrate these crops with traditional crops while adding environmental and economic benefits; and 2) integrate weed growth and development data, innovative weed control methods, and computer modeling to develop decision support aids to efficiently and effectively manage weeds in cropping systems for both new and traditional crops. For our first objective, we identified forage sorghum as an excellent annual biomass/forage crop that can be double- and relay-cropped with winter camelina and potentially, pennycress. These latter crops are oilseed species being developed for biofuel/bioproduct feedstock. Although sorghum is considered a mid and southern US crop, we demonstrated yields of 16 Mg ha-1 when relay-cropped and 26 Mg ha-1 when mono-cropped, which rivals corn for this region. Our research discovered the cardinal temperatures (base, optimum, and maximum) for calendula seed germination, which will help farmers growing calendula (as an oilseed) to target optimum planting date based on soil temperature. Research revealed that camelina can be planted deeper than previously recommended, which allows better seed-to-soil contact and can improve emergence and stand establishment. Initiated study to determine productivity of several spring and winter Brassica-related varieties, already revealed that "Joelle" camelina has superior winter-hardiness compared to canola and oilseed rape. Research success helped secure 2012-13 funding to study beneficial relationships of rotating diverse new/alternative oilseeds on pollinator (e.g., bees) abundance and health. Progress toward our second research objective included field demonstration that camelina is tolerant to ethalfluralin and pendimethalin used as pre-emergence herbicides but that clopyralid used as a post-emergence herbicide caused floral sterility despite not effecting vegetative growth. Additional field studies identified bromoxynil as an acceptable post-emergence herbicide for cuphea. Continued greenhouse and field testing to identify and verify tolerances of calendula, echium, and cuphea to additional pre- and post-emergence herbicides. Results will be used for recommendations and grower guides for producing these new oilseed crops. Our team researched new organic weed control tactics. The first method uses the grit of various plant residues, such as corn cobs, or organic-approved fertilizers, propelled by compressed air to abrade and kill weed seedlings within crop rows. Collaborators constructed a prototype multi-row, tractor-pulled applicator, which is being field tested. A video can be viewed at: A second method of organic-compatible weed control is rolling/crimping of winter rye at anthesis, which is followed immediately by planting short-season soybean varieties. Although this system lowers soybean yield up to 30%, it also achieves >95% weed control. Because organic soybean is valued at nearly twice that of conventional soybean, the method exceeds conventional soybean in terms of net returns to growers.

4. Accomplishments

Review Publications
Gesch, R.W., Archer, D.W. 2013. Double-cropping with winter camelina in the northern Corn Belt to produce fuel and food. Industrial Crops and Products. 44:718-725.

Johnson, J.M., Gesch, R.W. 2013. Calendula and camelina response to nitrogen fertility. Industrial Crops and Products. 43:684-691.

Forcella, F., Papiernik, S.K., Gesch, R.W. 2012. Postemergence herbicides for calendula. Weed Technology. 26:566-569.

Redmond, M.D., Forcella, F., Barger, N.N. 2012. Declines in pinyon pine cone production associated with regional warming. Ecosphere. 3(12). Available:

Gesch, R.W. 2013. Growth and yield response of calendula (Calendula officinalis) to sowing date in the northern U.S. Industrial Crops and Products. 45:248-252.

Gesch, R.W., Johnson, B.L. 2013. Post-anthesis development of oil content and composition with respect to seed moisture in two high-oleic sunflower hybrids in the northern US. Field Crops Research. 148:1-8.

Garcia, A.L., Torra, J., Recasaens, J., Forcella, F., Royo-Esnal, A. 2013. Hydrothermal emergence model for ripgut brome (Bromus diandrus). Weed Science. 61:146-153.

Davis, A.S., Clay, S., Cardina, J., Dille, A., Forcella, F., Lindquist, J., Sprague, C. 2013. Seed burial physical environment explains departures from regional hydrothermal model of giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida) seedling emergence in U.S. Midwest. Weed Science. 61(3):415-421.

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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