Update on Kansas Wheat by Bob Gillen

(Bob) Good morning. I’m Bob Gillen, head of the Western Kansas Agricultural Research Centers. We’re here at the Agricultural Research Center in Hays today for the Kansas Wheat Day. We’ve got a beautiful day as we look at the wheat right behind us. This is the largest off-campus research station in the K-State system. We’ve been here since 1901, and there’s quite a bit of history here. The Ag Research Station was actually carved out of the original Fort Hays cavalry post from the late 1800s. We’ve got a wide variety of agricultural research going on here. Today, we are talking about wheat programs and wheat breeding, a weed management program; we’ve got soils, entomology. We also have breeding programs in grain sorghum and in millet. The millet program has just recently been restarted after about a 15-year dormant period so to speak. Then we have beef cattle research and range management. We have, I like to say, sometimes a mini-College of Agriculture here at the Hays Research Station, where we cover a wide gamut of things. Obviously, our weather is much different as we go across Kansas. As the precipitation drops about an inch every 15 miles, we need to have a network of stations that can be set in the different precipitation environments and different soil types as well. We’ve had a very wet wheat season here. From the first of October until today, we’ve had about 17 inches, which is in the top 5% of rainfall for that period over 150 years of records. Obviously, that means we’ve got an excellent wheat crop developing. It also usually means we’ve got more disease pressure than normal. That’s okay, because that just gives the lines that our breeders are bringing forward, it puts more stress on them and it helps them sort out the winners from the ones that aren’t so productive. For our row crops, we grow mainly grain sorghum here at the Research Center at Hays. That means that we’re set up for a very good early season emergence. Although we can’t get in the field right now, it’s a little bit too wet, but we’re just really coming into the normal window for grain sorghum planting anyway. That puts a pretty good shine on things for us in terms of our early summer potential. Then of course, for our grass, the hills are just fantastic right now. Our native rangelands and pastures are very lush and green. Cattle should be gaining just spectacularly right now and it’s always a good time of year to get those cattle out on grass and get them going.

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