||To address the identified need for varieties of big bluestem, adapted to the Great Lakes states for improved forage quality, a research project was conducted to develop and release a cultivar or cultivars with superior forage characteristics. Big bluestem plant samples were
collected from 103 sites across Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin in 1992. Those samples were assigned accession numbers and planted in an initial evaluation test at the Rose Lake Plant Materials Center in 1993 to evaluate plant growth characteristics and potential for forage
production. Thirty accessions were selected from that test for evaluation in advanced testing studies. Ten accessions from the southern region, central region, or northern region of the
collection area were placed in advanced tests located in Indiana, Michigan, or Wisconsin, respectively. Commercially available varieties were included in each advanced test as standards.
At least two accessions in each advanced test had higher forage quality characteristics than did the standards in those tests. Dry matter production, protein production, and total digestible
nutrient (TDN) production of the best-performing selected accessions were 1.4 to 2.5 times higher than the most productive standard in each test. Future work on this project will include palatability testing, seedling vigor evaluations, and area of adaptation testing. The Rose Lake Plant Materials Center has the potential to release
at least three of the accessions tested in this project, based on needs and market potential.