Research is a Top Priority for Kentucky Small Grain Production
Growing winter wheat and other cool season grains in Kentucky is not an easy task. With this year’s weather, we’ve had the smallest wheat harvest in years, but we have renewed faith for the current crop in the ground thanks to new agronomic technologies.
Production research has always been a major priority of the Kentucky Small Grain Growers. In fact, we have dedicated more than $3.3 million in checkoff to research over the last 26 years. Of that amount, more than $1 million is directed toward the Grain and Forage Center of Excellence.
With our support and farmer collaboration, extension experts and private consultants have helped Kentucky wheat production grow 87 percent since the Kentucky Small Grain Promotion Council was formed, and the two previous years have resulted in record average wheat yields: 80 bushels per acre in 2016, and 77 bushels per acre in 2017. Unfortunately, 2018 dealt us a blow, providing some growers the worst wheat crop in years. The average yield was last estimated at only 66 bushels per acre.
The good news is that according to the USDA WASDE report, wheat use and exports are projected to increase, and stocks are expected to decrease. Todd Davis, UK extension grain marketing specialist, says this scenario should support higher wheat prices. Learn more on page 4.
To increase opportunity for our growers, KySGGA is also supporting research and market development of other small grain crops, such as barley and rye for the booming distilling industry.
If you have questions regarding our programs and research, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
2018 Research Reports
Focus on Policy: Farm Bill
In September, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) held its annual policy fly-in, where wheat farmers and staff from 21 states met with Congressional Members and USDA representatives on NAWG’s priorities. Laura Knoth and Adam Andrews were among those who traveled to Washington, D.C. to talk Farm Bill and trade.
While meeting on the hill, NAWG emphasized that crop insurance is of the upmost importance regarding risk management, especially after a year tainted with drought and wildfires. Wheat growers continued to push for a stronger farm safety net program and improvements to revenue-based (Agriculture Risk Coverage) and price-based (Price Loss Coverage) programs. Increasing funding for Market Access Development and Foreign Market Development programs was also discussed during meetings. Additionally, growers reiterated the need for changes to the current trade environment.
More recently, NAWG called on Congress to make the Farm Bill a priority following the mid-term elections.
“With the Farm Bill having expired, growers are left with much uncertainty and are denied access to several beneficial programs within the bill,” said NAWG President and Oklahoma wheat grower Jimmie Musick. “In particular, the outlook for foreign market development funding is in doubt until action is taken. Additionally, the USDA no longer has the authority to undertake new sign-ups for CRP, which incentivizes growers to incorporate healthy soil, non-tillage, and other similar practices into their operations.”
“The economy in Rural America is struggling and we need strong supporters of agriculture to bring it out of these difficult times.”
Focus on Grower Education: Growing the Wheat Field School into KATS
By Lori Rogers, Edwin Ritchey and Travis Legleiter, University of Kentucky
The Wheat Field School at the University of Kentucky Research and Education Center has had growth and positive changes in 2018.
Recently, the program has officially been named Kentucky Agriculture Training School (KATS). KATS has and will continue to be an in-the-field, hands-on training series that actively involves consultants, advisors, and producers throughout each educational workshop. The program has also acquired a coordinator, Lori Rogers, who is planning, managing and promoting the program. A website, kats.ca.uky.edu, has been established which provides information on upcoming workshops, important links, and a library of past trainings that includes YouTube videos.
The first Wheat Field School training of 2018 was in March, where wheat growth staging, nitrogen management, and weed control options were discussed. In April, topics that centered around flowering were covered along with grain storage considerations and practices. A Spray Clinic was held in July that covered topics from sprayer calibration and tank contamination to application methods to increase pesticide efficacy and reduce off-target movement.
To make the Field School training series more appealing to a broader audience, late-season corn and soybean management issues were discussed along with fertility management for small grains and corn in the last workshop of the year in September. The men and women participants were from Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, and Illinois representing over 330,000 cropped acres. They received CCA and Pesticide credits with each event. Many indicated they plan to attend future workshops.
A weed garden is being established at UKREC in the area that most of the trainings are conducted. The containers have been installed along with underground irrigation to each of the plots. This will be a tremendous asset for future trainings opportunities.
Six people completed surveys from the last training of the year and reported the information received was worth $2.1 million collectively to their operations and clientele. This clearly indicates the importance and value that trainings delivered through KATS provide to the producers of Kentucky.
Moving forward, an advisory committee is being assembled to give insight into the program structure and development. The committee will also weigh in on topics and activities beneficial to participants.
The 2019 KATS dates have been set which are March 7, May 21, June 13, July 18, August 22, and September 19.
Development of this program was supported by small grain checkoff dollars.
Focus on Promotion and Consumer Education
Kentucky Small Grain Growers support several student education programs through the Kentucky Agriculture and Environment in the Classroom to teach about wheat and other small grains.
One of those programs is Feeding Kentucky: A STEM Adventure, which provides engaging, hands-on learning activities to K-12 students. One station in particular allows students to test different technologies to grind soft red winter wheat. Other stations connect to wheat and grains through nutrition, farm to table, and industrial end user connections.
Other education programs that help promote small grains are Sponsor A Classroom and the Agriculture Literacy Network. Teachers and educators are given several resources, curriculum, and training on ways to effectively teach agriculture concepts such as consumerism, economics, life sciences, geography, math, and more.
In addition, KySGGA participated in the new AgLand area at the Kentucky State Fair. Working with the Kentucky Corn Growers, the booth featured wheat products, information, and recipe cards, with a focus on Kentucky’s milling and distilling industries.
Social media is another avenue KySGGA uses to connect to consumers with wheat information, specifically addressing nutrition and grain sensitivity issues.
Kentucky Wheat Production
(1998 - 2018)
Other Articles of Interest
UK Winter Wheat Meeting
January 8, 2019
Bruce Convention Center, Hopkinsville, KY
Kentucky Commodity Conference
Thursday, January 17, 2019
Bowling Green, KY
UK Wheat Field Day
May 14, 2019
UK Research and Education Center, Princeton, KY