Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association

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Research is Top Priority for Kentucky Small Grain Production

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Michael McCain, President
Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association

Growing winter wheat and other cool season grains in Kentucky is not an easy task. And even though the current crop is still slowly progressing, my fellow growers and I are already looking at the challenges and opportunities of the next crop.

Production research has always been a major priority of the Kentucky Small Grain Growers. In fact, we have dedicated more than $3 million in checkoff to research over the last 26 years. Of that amount, about $785,000 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 last two years have resulted in record average wheat yields: 80 bushels per acre in 2016, and 77 bushels per acre in 2017.

Aside from prices and politics, we don’t have control over the weather. I’m not sure what we can expect of 2018 production with the cool weather we’ve had this spring. University of Kentucky plant pathologist Carl Bradley told us last week at the Wheat Field School that wheat development has been a little behind what we would typically see at this time of the year, which also means diseases have been behind as well. Carl does suggest scouting for stripe rust, since it has been observed in Princeton. Septoria and Stagonospora leaf blotch may be seen as it begins to warm up.

He said it is too early to know the risk of head scab, which typically occurs closer to heading and flowering. KySGGA has devoted a lot of checkoff dollars to research this devastating disease over the years, such as breeding resistant varieties or improving control methods. We all need to see that research continue.

Each spring, we request research proposals for funding consideration. It is always beneficial to hear from growers on what research teams should consider investigating, and I encourage you to reach out to our staff with your suggestions.

If you would like to see a current or past list of research projects, please check out our web site at www.kysmallgrains.org and click on research or our annual report. Not only do we want to see the research conducted, but it is vitally important to get the results and recommendations out through publications and education events. From the website, growers will also be able to find the education event calendar and links to all Kentucky small grain related production and marketing reports.

Should you have questions about any of our programs or would like to suggest funding opportunities or research projects, please contact our staff at 800-326-0906.

Jennifer Elwell