by Jeremy Sweeten
There are multitudes of different small seeds you can plant on your farm, whether it is forage or cover crop. When you purchase seed from CISCO, there has been a lot of work put into choosing that product for you. It's not just something that we stock in our warehouse. Let’s look at the process involved in choosing seed for your farm.
CISCO is a long-time distributor of quality seed, so we have multiple sources for seed. Our greatest tools for selecting new products are university variety trials, seed company trials, and on-farm evaluation.
The University of Kentucky is a wonderful place for us to select varieties from. They have a top-notch forage testing program that really helps sort the great varieties from the average. They also utilize grazing selection trials. What makes the UK trials so good is the environment the forages are grown in. Lexington, KY can have brutally hot, humid summers and cold winters without snow cover. The high humidity in the late summer can really show how well grasses are resistant to leaf diseases such as rust. The cold winters are very good in showing what plants are winter hardy.
CISCO also looks at other university data from Purdue University, The Ohio State University, Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin, and Penn State University. These forage and cover crop trials show trends in how a forage or cover crop will perform in a Midwestern environment. We look for high yields and persistence in multiple locations, not just one winning trial. We are looking at commercially released varieties as well as experimental varieties. Some other attributes that we select for are maturity, stand persistence, forage quality, winterhardiness, and disease resistance.
In addition to university research, we also look at our supplier’s forage research plots in the Midwest as well as Oregon. Another great resource is our own demonstration plots in Bristol, IN. Many of the varieties are evaluated for 2-3 years before they are ever considered for placement.
On the Farm
The final test that CISCO put our forages and cover crops through is on farm evaluation. A real example that was recently evaluated was Frosty berseem clover. Frosty berseem clover was evaluated in our demonstration plots in Bristol, IN, looked at in seed production fields in Oregon, placed in grazing and cover crop situations in northern Michigan, and used as a cover crop in southern Indiana.
When you see a variety of seed offered by CISCO, you can be confident that it has been thoroughly evaluated before it was ever available for sale. CISCO also has two full-time agronomists and three gentlemen in the office with agriculture degrees - to help place forages and cover crops, resolve problems, and provide support for all our seed. Feel confident when you buy seed from CISCO, you are getting quality in every bag.