MSU Extension researchers present variety trial crop results

EBEN JUNCTION — Researchers from the Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center in Chatham met with farmers and community members in Eben Junction on the fifth stop of a tour of farming communities across the U.P.

The researchers are doing community outreach to present the results of their 2014 variety trial crops. A grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development paid for the research. The team is bringing the data to local farmers to help them make informed decisions about which crops they plant.

“The benefit of this research is we can take a lot of varieties, right, like in our malting barley trial, we had 23 named varieties and a few experimentals,” said UPREC Crops Research Assistant Chris Kapp, “and so we’re able to test those in a small location with a lot of the variables eliminated.”

Malting barley was one of the focuses of the research because of the burgeoning craft beer industry in Michigan, which the researchers said uses 25% of the malting barley supply despite having only 10% of the market. A feasibility study of the production of malting barley looked favorable, although some varieties of European barley preferred by craft beer producers did not fare so well in tests.

Researchers also gathered a lot of data on cover crops.

“If you’re looking for a cover crop, you really want to stick with a cool species cover crop, not so much of a warm season, especially if you’re located in the northern tier of counties. Our warm–season cover crops actually either didn’t germinate, or they just didn’t perform very well,” Kapp added.

The team will visit communities in Delta, Mackinac, and Chippewa counties after the holidays. They also expressed their desire to work with more local farmers in future real world on–farm trials. For more information about the Extension Center’s research, head their website at