Wheat is making strides in Kentucky
Pat Clements, KySGGA President
Wheat can be one of the most beneficial and dependable crops we produce in Kentucky. I can remember only once in 37 years of being involved in wheat production when there was nothing to harvest.
Its contributions to sustainable agriculture include its role as a cover crop as well as its ability to increase soil organic matter and tilth. Wheat is easier to manage and more versatile than other small grains and proves to be a forage favorite for the livestock industry who recognize its nutritional benefits as well as its dependability for fall grazing.
Kentucky Small Grains Growers Association (KySGGA) recognizes the importance of wheat and partnered with the University of Kentucky to produce our own Kentucky-bred certified public wheat variety. The traits of the newest release, Pembroke2016, include excellent yield potential, early maturity, superior test weight, strong straw and standability, good disease tolerance and moderate resistance to head scab. One of the great things about Pembroke is it is neither patented nor protected under the Plant Variety Protection Act. This means once growers have the seed they have the right to produce and save the seed for future use as long as they adhere to all statutes of the Kentucky Seed Law.
One of the great things we have going for us raising wheat in Kentucky is our relationship with both the University of Kentucky Wheat Breeding Program and the various milling companies across the state.
Weisenberger Mills and Siemer Milling are two such mills that have been great partners with KySGGA for years. Beyond our excellent working relationship, they both really seem to care about the soft red wheat crop and the farmers who grow it. They understand it takes us all — farmers, mills and industry — working together to achieve an outstanding end product for consumers.
Changing pace, I have to say, I appreciate the emphasis KySGGA invests into research. Ky Small Grains often flies low on the commodity radar due to perception of low community involvement. But, since the association uses the majority of farmer checkoff dollars directly towards grain research — increasing crop efficiency, preserving our natural resources and delving into better management practices for farmers. When it comes down to it, isn’t that the real community benefit? I’m proud to serve an association that cares about its farmers, the crop and the agriculture industry.