The Alaska Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station (AFES), formerly Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station (AAES), is administered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The station includes the Fairbanks Experiment Farm, the Matanuska Experiment Farm, the Palmer Research & Extension Center, and the Delta Junction and the Point MacKenzie field research sites. The Georgeson Botanical Garden and the Reindeer Research Program herd are at the Fairbanks farm. The dean of the UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences is also the director of AFES.

Sub-communities within this community

Recent Submissions

  • Use of native Alaskan materials for farm and home construction

    Branton, C. I.; Fahnestock, C. R. (University of Alaska, Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station, 1953-11)
  • Urban use of Alaskan farm products

    Johnson, Hugh A. (University of Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station, 1953-09)
  • Present and potential agricultural areas in Alaska

    Johnson, Hugh A. (University of Alaska, Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station, 1953-02)
  • Farming in the Matanuska and Tanana Valleys of Alaska

    Moore, Clarence A. (University of Alaska, Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station, 1952-01)
  • Agricultural possibilities of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

    McCurdy, Richard E.; Johnson, Hugh A. (Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station, 1951-03)
    During the summer of 1950, an intensive study was made on the Kenai Peninsula to determine the extent of its agricultural development and the plans and problems of current settlers. All available settlers residing in accessible areas were interviewed. Notes were also collected concerning non-resident or absentee landholders. The resulting information consequently covers the agricultural community that has developed under existing conditions of help, hindrance and laissez faire. The study furnishes guides useful in formulating public settlement policies for the Kenai-Kasilof area and to individuals who might wish to locate in this or other sections of the Peninsula.
  • Ryegrasses in Alaska: grazing preference, forage yields, digestibility, and other comparisons among four types of ryegrass, and responses of different types and cultivars to various management options

    Klebesadel, Leslie J. (University of Alaska Fairbanks, Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, School of Agriculture and Land Resources Management, 2000-02)
  • Bromegrass in Alaska. VII. : Heading, seed yield, and components of yield as influenced by seeding-year management and by time and rate of nitrogen application in subsequent years

    Klebesadel, Leslie J. (University of Alaska Fairbanks, Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, School of Agriculture and Land Resources Management, 1998-10)
  • Getting a start in dairying in Alaska

    Sweetman, W. J.; Branton, C. I. (Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station, 1962-03)
  • Matanuska Valley Memoir

    Johnson, Hugh A.; Stanton, Keith L. (University of Alaska, Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station, 1980-05)
    The Matanuska Valley was created through action of ice, water and wind. When the last glaciers retreated up the Susitna. the Knik and the Matanuska valleys, vegetation began covering the scars. Over several centuries a dense growth of trees and brush screened the land from Knik Arm to the mountain slopes of the Talkeetna range. Here and there a lake broke the uniform forest mantle. A salt marsh at the mouth of the Matanuska River kept the rank undergrowth from reaching tidewater. A few low spots near the Little Susitna and other swampy areas supported a thick cover of moss or grass. The Valley, which really isn't a valley at all but a reworked foreland, rises from the Matanuska River in a series of benches ranging in width from a few hundred feet to more than a mile. Some areas are flat, others are rolling. Soil depth varies from eight feet in thickness for the region bordering the Matanuska River to a few inches in sections west of Wasilla. The soil mantle, of windblown loessial materials, is of relatively new geologic development. The Valley is bounded by the Chugach Mountains on the east, the Talkeetnas on the north, the Susitna Valley on the west and Knik Arm on the south. Winters are long but usually not unduly severe; summers cool and relatively moist. To this country came trappers, prospectors, and traders in closing years of the nineteenth century. Hordes of insects, difficult trails, sparse population and great distances from supply points discouraged many potential residents. Those who stayed were interested primarily in the Willow Creek gold field or the Matanuska coal deposits. Another generation, an uneasy international situation and social crises within the United States were required before the Matanuska Valley and the rest of Upper Cook Inlet were ripe for use. This history of the Valley is designed to trace the many human elements affecting the ebb and flow of agricultural development here. It brings into focus many problems that must be solved before new areas in Alaska can be settled satisfactorily.
  • Information for prospective settlers concerning agriculture in Alaska

    University of Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station, 1958-09
    ALASKA'S agriculture is a growing industry. In 1957 some $4 1/2 million worth of food and feed grown by 200 full-time and 350 part-time farmers brought nearly $9 million in the market place. Crop volume doubled between 1950 and 1955. While Alaskan agriculture has been rapidly expanding, growers have been also keeping abreast of Stateside grading and packaging practices. They now offer homegrown products of the highest quality. A few farms are as modern as any in the States. Some farmers net $10,000 year or more, although the average is closer to $4,000 because many farms are small and others are in early stages of . development.
  • Forty-seven years of experimental work with grasses and legumes in Alaska

    Irwin, Don L. (Agricultural Experiment Stations, University of Alaska, 1945-11)
    As early as 1898 investigations of the agricultural possibilities in Alaska were begun along the southern coast and westward along the Aleutian Islands. In the reports of these investigations frequent reference is made to the variety and abundance of the native grasses, whose value for hay and ensilage in feeding livestock was well-known even .at that early date. In some districts, as many as 40 varieties and species were found. Letters written in the same year from widely-scattered points throughout the Territory indicate that the native grasses were widely disseminated, flourishing as far north as the Yukon River. As a family, the legumes native to Alaska, while widely disseminated, are not so predominant as the grasses. In some small areas they are quite abundant. In other sections, only a few varieties are found in scattered locations. As a whole, they form only a small proportion of the forage plants of the Territory. In their native habitat, the grasses and legumes bear seed and propagate readily. Under cultivated conditions, however, considerable difficulty has been encountered in germinating seed of either the native grasses or legumes successfully. It has been found that close grazing or mowing for hay or ensilage year after year depletes the stand of the grasses and legumes. Also, the period during which the native grasses may be pastured or cut for hay with maximum yield and nutritive value is short. For these reasons, the Agricultural Experiment Stations of Alaska have given considerable attention to studies and trials of cultivated varieties of grasses and legumes for pasture and hay. The experimental data on the grasses and legumes tried at the several Stations are briefly summarized in the following report, giving the variety of grass and legume, the years it was seeded, and the results. No attempt has been made to include detail. Scientific names have been eliminated as much as possible, except where they are necessary for definite identification. Varieties of grasses and legumes best adapted to each section of Alaska are listed in the Summary on Page 42.
  • Forage crops in the Matanuska region, Alaska

    Alberts, H. W. (Office of Experiment Stations, United States Department of Agriculture, 1933-05)
    The principal crops on which the development of agriculture in the Matanuska region 1 depends are grown primarily as a feed for livestock. So far as is known, Fred Herning in 1906 was the first person to grow forage crops in the region. Mr. Herning operated a trading post at Knik and for many years grew^ oats on 2 acres as a feed for his horse. The first farmers did not grow forage crops because they had no barns or other buildings in which to care for livestock, and their areas of cleared ground were not sufficient for the raising of feed for horses and cows. Teams were scarce in the Matanuska Valley in those days, and only small parcels of land could be cleared at a time. Potatoes constituted the chief money crop of the region, and they therefore were grown on nearly all the cleared land. Potato growing required only small capital and yielded immediate returns in cash. However, diseases attacked the crop after it had been continuously grown on the same areas, and the yield of marketable potatoes was greatly reduced in consequence. The farmers then sought for other crops with which to grow their potatoes in rotation. Cereal crops, such as oats, barley, and wheat, were tested for grain and found to make vigorous growth. At Matanuska these crops are grown during the warmest part of the summer and harvested with the coming of cool weather. Frequent slow, drizzling rains coming shortly after cutting may make difficult the work of curing the crop in bundles in the field when it is grown for grain, but curing can be economically done when the crop is grown for forage. Since the establishment of the Matanuska Agricultural Experiment Station in 1917, an endeavor has been made to determine the grain and forage crops best adapted to the region. Inasmuch as legumes had not been grown, such perennial legumes as clovers and alfalfa were introduced for trial. These grew vigorously during the summer and went into the winter in fine condition, but many of the plants were eventually heaved out of the ground by frost. Attention was then turned to field peas and to spring vetch (Vicia sativa), which are now among the more important legumes grown by farmers in the Matanuska Valley. In the first trials field peas and vetch were seeded separately and grew luxuriantly. However, they lodged so badly as to be difficult to harvest and to cure. Thereafter peas and oats or vetch and oats were sown in mixture, the oats to provide support for the recumbent plants. Only enough oats were seeded in the mixture to keep the peas or the vetch from lodging. Sown together, field peas and oats gave a high yield of silage, and vetch and oats made the most desirable of the hay crops. The peas and the oats grew luxuriantly and were readily harvested and cured for winter use. The vetch and the oats for hay, however, required special treatment since they did not cure satisfactorily on the ground. Attempts were next made to cure the crops on racks built in the field, as is done in Norway (fig. 1). This method, although effective, was too expensive for use in Alaska, on account of the high cost of the labor involved. After unsuccessfully trying various other methods of curing, the station devised a simple inexpensive method in which the material is piled on thin peeled stakes driven into the ground (fig. 2). This method is now satisfactorily used by the more progressive farmers of the region.
  • Oat production in Alaska

    Higgins, F. L. (Office of Experiment Stations, United States Department of Agriculture, 1932-06)
    The oat crop occupies an important place on the farms in interior Alaska, especially in the Matanuska Valley and the Fairbanks region of the Tanana Valley. The crop is used chiefly for hay. It is one of the more important grain crops in the system of diversified farming recommended for Alaska by the Alaska Agricultural Experiment Stations. Good yields for hay and silage can be produced in southeastern Alaska, but production is limited (1) by the small areas of suitable land available for farming, (2) by the high cost of clearing the land, and (3) by cool, wet weather in the fall which makes difficult the work of harvesting. Southeastern Alaska is rough, rugged, and heavily timbered and has comparatively little land available for cultivation. Oats can not be depended upon to mature at Kenai, on Cook Inlet, because of the unfavorable weather prevailing there. However, oats can be grown in that region for hay and silage. The cool, rainy weather in the fall is more favorable for silage making than for haymaking. A small area of oats is grown for forage in the Homer region on Cook Inlet. This region is well suited to oats and vetch, and also to oats and peas for hay and silage. Weather conditions there, as in the Kenai region, are adverse to the ripening of oats. Oat growing in the Tanana Valley, near Fairbanks, began about 1907 with the production of hay for horses, shortly after the establishment of a mining camp in the valley. A number of horses were used in the region for freighting, and as timothy hay had to be shipped in from the States at a cost of more than $100 per ton, some of the teamsters decided to clear their lands and grow oat hay for the local market. Oat hay of good quality brought from $60 to $90 per ton, depending upon market requirements. Oats for forage is an important crop in this region. The native bluetop grass (Calamagrostiis spp.) is found growing only in certain localities, and then in irregular patches. Experience has shown that it does not withstand cutting in successive years. Hardy, high-yielding biennial or perennial legumes have not yet been found which will produce as high tonnage per acre as do oats, in interior Alaska. Oats seeded with peas or with vetch for hay have been found to make an efficient silage material. The addition of legumes to the ration improves the feeding value of the hay and is especially desirable for dairy cows and young stock. Because of inadequate threshing facilities, oats were not grown for grain for some time. However, with the introduction and development of early-maturing varieties of oats and the purchase of a threshing machine by the station for station and community use, farmers began seeding oats for grain. Alaska farmers follow different methods in growing oats. Some plow in the fall, others in the spring, and still others not at all. Those who do not plow prepare the seed bed by disking and harrowing in the spring. Again, some farmers follow a definite scheme of rotation to conserve and increase soil fertility and to lessen loss from crop diseases, whereas others broadcast their grain seed without being reasonably sure that it is free from disease. As a result of general poor management much of the land under cultivation is low in fertility and badly infested with weeds, making it necessary to give attention to weed control. This bulletin, based on observations and experiments in different parts of Alaska, has been prepared for the purpose of assisting farmers of the Territory to grow oats successfully.
  • The Potato in Alaska

    Alberts, H. W. (Office of Experiment Stations, United States Department of Agriculture, 1931-07)
  • Brief history of cattle breeding in Alaska

    Georgeson, C. C. (Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1929-01)
    So far as is known the Russians were the first people of the Caucasian race to settle in Alaska. They early recognized the possibilities of Alaska for stock-breeding purposes and imported cattle from Siberia in the belief that the animals could be made to sustain themselves on the lush pastures abounding here and there in the new country. Cattle raising was in progress at each of the principal Russian settlements, including Kodiak, Kenai, Ninilchik, and Sitka, when the United States purchased the Territory from Russia in 1867. Some cattle were introduced from the States after the American occupation, but representatives of the original Russian stock were still in evidence when the first agricultural experiment station was established at Sitka in 1898. All the cattle at Kenai and at Ninilchik, on Cook Inlet, were descendants of those that had been introduced from Russia, and their progeny are still to be found at Ninilchick. The animals were small, slim in all proportions, and had a narrow head with thin, upright horns. The average weight of the mature cow was about 500 pounds. In color the stock was brown, or dark red, and occasionally the body Avas mottled. The milk yield was low and had a fat content of about 3 per cent. The cattle had deteriorated not only in general conformation, but also in milking qualities and in suitability for beef production. In 1906 when the Galloway breed was established by the stations as a foundation stock at Kalsin Bay, 15 miles from Kodiak, it was learned that cattle in considerable numbers had at some time in the past been maintained there by the Russians. The most convincing evidence supporting this fact was the discovery in the region of a large pile of thoroughly decayed cattle manure. The Russians, realizing that about 5,000 or 6,000 acres of land at the head of Kalsin Bay were adapted to cattle raising, had probably used the place as a breeding center whence they distributed stock to the settlements throughout the coast region. A few head of cattle of the dairy type were introduced with the establishment of salmon canneries at various points along the coasts. Some of the descendants of these animals remained in the country. At Kodiak, Sitka, Kenai, and other places where Americans had settled, a few head of cattle were kept for the supply of milk. More cattle were introduced into the country with the development of new settlements and camps. Dairies sprang up in the towns to meet the local demands for milk. These cattle, however, were maintained, excepting for the small amount of pasturage available during the summer, on feed which had to be imported from Seattle for the purpose. This is the situation even to-day, but it does not show that cattle can not be supported by locally produced feed. The winter maintenance of cattle is a matter that must be given careful consideration in all parts of the Territory. Experiments with the silo at the Kodiak station were so successful that winter feeding was not found to be the perplexing problem it would have been had the cattle been dependent upon hay and grain shipped in from Seattle. Any kind of green forage can be made into silage. Grown with peas or vetches, oats make excellent silage. The native grasses, especially wild beach rye (Elymus mollis) and a tall sedge {Carex cryptocarpa), have been relied upon for silage at Kodiak, sometimes supplying 90 to 95 per cent of the material put up annually. Sunflowers and horse beans have been successfully made into silage at Matanuska. Artichokes for silage have been grown at each of the stations. The tops are especially well suited to silage making in that the yield is heavy. In seasons unfavorable for haymaking, native bluetop (Calamagrostis langsdorjii) is utilized to some extent for silage. At times the silo at Kodiak has been kept filled with about one-third each of sedge, beach grass, and field crops consisting of oats, peas, barley, and vetch. At Matanuska, in 1925, 2-year-old heifers daily gained in weight and kept in thrifty condition when they were fed 16 pounds of silage, 8 pounds of straw, and 5 pounds of roots. Cows were maintained in a fair flow of milk when they were fed daily per 1,000 pounds of body weight, 25 pounds of silage, 10 pounds of straw, 12 pounds of roots, and 4 pounds of barley-oat chop. To-day the Alaska stations are maintaining a few head each of the Galloway and the Holstein-Friesian breeds. The Galloways are kept at Kodiak and the Holstein-Friesians and crossbred Galloway-Holsteins at Matanuksa. Some yak are being maintained at Fairbanks for crossing with Galloways.
  • Vegetable gardening in Alaska

    Georgeson, C. C. (Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1928-11)
    This bulletin is intended for settlers and prospective settlers in Alaska and for others who may be interested in gardening in the Territory. The information given is based upon the results of investigations by the Alaska Experiment Stations during 29 years and should be useful to those who are planning to make Alaska their home. The great extent of the Territory and the variable climate make it necessary to refer briefly to the features which characterize the climate as a whole and to some extent to local conditions as regards temperature and rainfall during the growing season.
  • Cereal growing in Alaska

    Georgeson, C. C.; Gasser, G. W. (Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1926-05)
    Prior to the establishment of the Alaska Agricultural Experiment Stations it was almost universally believed that Alaska was a frozen, inhospitable wilderness, and therefore worthless for agricultural purposes. Even as late as 1899 it was declared wholly unreasonable to expect anything like cereals to grow so far north, this statement being fortified by an account of the glaciers and ice fields that the tourist sees in the coast region. To-day, however, public opinion is favorably changing as the result of experiments carried on by the stations; and it is beginning to be realized that the country has great agricultural possibilities, its productive power being merely a matter of development. (Fig. 1.)
  • Eradication of tuberculosis in cattle at the Kodiak Experiment Station

    Georgeson, C. C.; White, W. T. (Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1924-01)
    Southwestern Alaska is eminently fitted for cattle raising, particularly Kodiak Island, where nutritious grasses grow in abundance and there is little timber, the vegetation being mainly bushes, grasses, and other low-growing plants. This region, including the several other islands lying off the mainland, has a moist climate accompanied by no great variations in temperature, the thermometer in summer seldom registering as high as 75° F. and in winter rarely reaching zero. The shore skirting Kodiak Island is cut by numerous deep bays, at the heads of which lies most of the tillable land. The remainder of the island is mountainous, the land gradually rising from near the seashore to a height of 1,000 to 3,000 feet. Kodiak Island was chosen in 1907 as the location for a cattle-breeding station to determine the adaptability of cattle to the climatic conditions prevailing there.

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