HETTINGER, N.D. – With a flourish and fan fare, NDSU Hettinger Research Extension Center (HREC) in Hettinger will celebrate its 110th anniversary at summer field days this year July 9.
The celebration marks more than a century of important research at the center. That research will be highlighted during the crops tour from 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
“We are extremely proud of the work and impact that the Hettinger REC has on the region it serves,” said Greg Lardy, NDSU Extension Associate Vice President for Agricultural Affairs. “Its 110-year history is marked by significant research, accomplishments, as well as highly impactful Extension programming. The work has made a difference to multiple generations of citizens in the region, and we look forward to the next 110 years of service at the center.”
The anniversary celebration ends with supper to be held at the HREC Agronomy Lab and shop after the crop tour.
“We hope everyone comes to celebrate our 110th anniversary with us and view the research we have during our crop tour,” said Dr. Chris Schauer, director of NDSU HREC and interim director of Dickinson Research Extension Center.
Speakers at HREC’s field days this year include: Joe Ikley, NDSU Extension weeds specialist, who will be discussing weeds and management; Andrew Friskop, NDSU Extension plant pathologist, who will be discussing wheat diseases; Andrew Green, NDSU spring wheat breeder, who will be discussing spring wheat varieties and his breeding program, Burton Johnson, NDSU sunflower, minor, and new crop production specialist, who will be discussing hemp production; Caleb Dalley, NDSU HREC weed scientist, who will be discussing his current weed control research, and John Rickertsen, NDSU HREC agronomist, who will be discussing soybean research, durum varieties, barely varieties, and pulse crop production
“We have a hemp variety trial this year,” Rickertsen said. Several producers are trying industrial hemp this year and it is always a question about which variety to plant.
According to Schauer’s history of HREC, the center was established by the North Dakota Legislature in 1909 with a gift of 160 acres from the city of Hettinger and Adams County.
Funding from the Legislature allowed for a horse barn, farm house, machine shed and a poultry house.
In 1942, the annual report of the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station suggested the Hettinger sub-station could serve the growing sheep industry of the state by beginning a sheep-breeding and sheep-feeding station.
Two ewe flocks, Columbia and Rambouillet, were purchased in 1945 and were the foundation for the current sheep program at the center.
Today, HREC is the largest state-owned sheep research center in the U.S.
In addition to valuable sheep research, HREC and the NDSU Extension Service run the annual North Dakota Sheep Shearing School and North Dakota Certified Wool Classing School.
There is also a beef cattle program at HREC, with calves being raised and fed at HREC and finished at Carrington Research Extension Center
While early research focused on crop, dairy and poultry production, today’s research focuses on weed science, agronomy, range and wildlife, and animal science research.
Led by Rickertsen, research agronomist, the agronomy program has a number of studies ongoing with many different crops. Variety research is a part of the center and at several off-station sites, along with other research projects.
Last year, HREC was the first center to have the AG V6A+ Unmanned Aerial Vehicle fly over its farm fields. This UAV delivers herbicide to fields, and is especially good for in-crop spraying.
New research is continually being developed at HREC, according to what producers in the area need in the way of research.
Dr. Ben Geaumont, NDSU HREC range scientist, is leading important research on patch burn grazing in a pasture near the center with native prairie grasses.
“We really do not know a lot about what, if any, benefits patch-burn grazing can bring to the Northern Great Plains, but if history has told us anything, fire was once an important component to grassland function,” Geaumont said.
With weeds always a problem, Dalley continues to bring the latest technology in weed suppression work.
Janna Block, area Extension specialist in livestock systems, was present to help producers with their livestock during the huge drought of 2017.
Research technicians are the backbone of the center, along with all the administrative staff.
HREC is part of the NDSU Research and Extension centers that dedicate hard work and commitment to research for the present and the future of agriculture.