Dr. Chen Will Present "Alternatives To Sugar Beets" During Upcoming Field Day, July 11

Professor of Agronomy and Montana State University Eastern Agricultural Research Center (MSU-EARC) superintendent, Dr. Chengci Chen will be presenting "Alternatives to Sugar Beets" during the 2023 Field Day, July 11.

"Several crops have a potential as alternatives to sugar beets, including soybean, dry bean, and oilseed crops. Currently, we are studying mung bean, adzuki bean, soybean, and dry bean," Chen commented.

While dry beans have adapted to the soil and climate in the surrounding area and have been grown by local farmers in previous years, mung beans and adzuki beans are new to the area. Like soybeans, dry beans, mung beans and adzuki beans are all appropriate for irrigated farmland and can be planted and harvested using the same equipment that's used to plant soybeans or small grains. Mung beans and adzuki beans have a higher price than other dry beans, which would bring in more money for local farmers. Both mung and adzuki beans are widely consumed in Asian countries, which is the same region the United States already exports wheat to.

"These crops can do well in this area. However, mung beans and adzuki beans are warm season crops. Like other dry beans, or soybeans, they might run into the first frost in the fall, or encounter wet weather at crop maturity. They might not dry down on time or dry down evenly for combining. In the past, growers used under cutters prior to combining. We are currently studying the harvestability of these crops," Chen explained.

The research conducted on a small plot scale allows scientists to figure out what cultivators can and can't grow in this environment. It also allows them to develop agronomic strategies for these new alternative crops such as planting date, rate, fertility need, weed control, irrigation management, and harvesting method, all of which is essential knowledge to have before farmers began planting them on a large scale.

The 2023 MSU-EARC Field Day will start at 9 a.m. at 1501 N. Central Ave., Sidney. Chen will be one of several experts who will be presenting their research findings on topics affecting local farmers. For more information, contact MSU-EARC at 406-433-2208.


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