The High Plains Grass Seed Association (HPGSA) will hold its annual field day, Thursday, June 14, at the Dan Laursen Farm, near Alliance, NE.

Grass seed has proven to be a viable crop in the Panhandle region and its production can be a highly profitable venture. Grass seed production provides an opportunity for farmers to diversify their operations and take advantage of a niche market that avoids fluctuations common to those experienced in the production of traditional grain and vegetable commodities.

"Grass seed can be a good alternative crop in a field's rotation," states Tony Merrigan, University of Nebraska Extension educator. "The production of grass seed helps to minimize erosion, adds organic matter to the soil and helps to break disease, insect and weed cycles."

"The learning curve on grass seed production is steep," says Dan Laursen, grass seed producer and association president. "Many errors can be avoided by talking with others and participating in field tours."

University of Nebraska researchers and local producers will present onsite information related to ongoing research and production efforts. Tour stops will include research studies involving variety trials, downy brome control, post-harvest residue management, nitrogen leaching and establishment practices for Kentucky bluegrass. Information regarding insect and disease problems, and associated control measures also will be presented and discussed. During tours of Kentucky bluegrass and western wheatgrass fields, participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and gain additional knowledge about production and marketing practices from local growers.

The field day will feature a meeting of the association, following a 12 noon hamburger fry. The meeting will be highlighted by the presentation and discussion of results from a feasibility study funded in part by a Value-Added Agriculture Grant. The study was undertaken to assess future needs for a grass seed cleaning and processing facility in the Panhandle. Members of the HPGSA Executive Committee will present findings from the study. Dr. Martin Massengale, director of the NU Center for Grassland Studies, will serve as discussion leader.

Registration for the field day will be from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m., including lunch, with a $10 registration fee. For more information, please contact the county Extension staff.

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