Variety Development – Bison Edition

November 3, 2020 in Crops



Variety Development – Bison Edition

Nearly 90 Percent of North Dakota Land is in Agriculture

As of yesterday, North Dakota has been a state for 131 years. It was admitted in 1889 on the same day as South Dakota. To commemorate the occasion we are making North Dakota State University (NDSU) the next stop on our tour of America’s Land-Grant University (LGU) system. NDSU’s main campus can be found in Fargo. The NDSU Bison football team–winners of 8 the last 9 NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) national championships (yep, you read that right)–play their games in the Fargodome. Although NDSU is the oldest land-grant university in North Dakota, it is one of six LGUs in the state. The other five are Native American universities under tribal authority that were given LGU status by Congress in 1994. Due to the substantial agricultural footprint of NDSU, it will be the focus of our post today. 


While a mere 762,062 people called North Dakota home in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the state is an agricultural giant. More than 26,000 farming operations covering in excess of 39 million acres generated over $6.8 billion in value in North Dakota in 2019 as reported by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), placing it sixth nationally in the value of field crops. In 2019, North Dakota ranked first in the production value of wheat, dry beans, canola, flaxseed, and oats. It ranked second in sunflowers and rye, third in barley, seventh in potatoes, 10th in soybeans, and 11th in corn. It also produces significant volumes of sugar beets and lentils. 

To someone who hasn’t visited North Dakota, it may feel like the state’s landscape is monolithic, but the differences between the Red River Valley in the east, the Missouri Slope in the southwest, and the places in between are significant. In collaboration with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA), Farm Flavor Media wrote this brief agricultural overview of North Dakota. Or if you prefer, you can watch NDDA's overview of the state's diverse agricultural economy.

To match the many different soils and growing conditions in the state, NDSU’s Plant Sciences department features a robust array of breeding programs including barley, canola, corn, dry beans, wheat, oats, potatoes, pulse crops, and soybeans, among others. The dry bean breeding program is headed up by Dr. Juan Osomo, who walks us through the bean breeding process in the informative video below.

Perhaps even more remarkable than the number of NDSU breeding programs are the 35 different commodities for which the university has conducted trials since 2001. From major crops like wheat to niche crops like mustard and emerging crops like industrial hemp, NDSU has a substantial variety trial portfolio across seven university research and extension testing sites, in addition to the impressive main station in Fargo. 


We hope you take some time to check out NDSU’s Plant Science website, because we think you’ll be impressed with the depth and breadth of research activity conducted there. Even to someone unfamiliar with the state, it will be obvious that NDSU takes its agriculture seriously. Of course, it should when agriculture is so critical to the state’s economy and way of life.

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