Pawnee County youth earns top honors in Wheat Variety Plot Display
Just like farming, exhibiting at the Kansas State Fair can be a family tradition. That's certainly the case for Grant Unruh of Pawnee Rock, who won the Kansas 4-H Wheat Variety Plot Display at this year's Kansas State Fair.
"My brother did it when he was 12, and then my sister did it. I guess it kind of just went down the line," says Grant, who is a junior at Larned High School.
The competition requires participants to plant and raise five varieties of wheat; then create an educational display to showcase their wheat production and accomplishments. The Wheat Variety Plot Display--sponsored in part by the Kansas Wheat Commission--encourages young people to promote wheat production and wheat food products, to State Fair visitors.
Each participant receives five varieties of wheat (Fuller, SY Wolf, Winterhawk, Hatcher and Danby) to grow in a plot. Crop inputs including fertilizer, fungicide and herbicides are tracked, and harvest statistics are recorded. Fuller was Unruh's top variety, weighing in at 23.9 bushels per acre. Seed dealer Marvin Whipple helped with harvest and weighing the test plot.
Unruh planted the plot on Oct. 29, 2011, and planting conditions were good until spring. Drought conditions plagued his variety plot from spring to harvest.
"I learned that you need a lot of water to keep wheat growing. You need to put a lot fertilizer down to keep it growing and keep it in good shape," he says. "Also you have to kind of keep on eye on it to make sure things are going well."
A member of the Gem Dandys 4-H Club in Pawnee County, Unruh won the competition in part because of his eye-catching booth in the 4-H Showcase Building that incorporates the sport of basketball to promote Kansas wheat production and wheat foods consumption. His display, themed, "Now the Ball is in Your Court," encourages consumers to buy food items made with whole grain wheat, such as cereals, crackers, mixes and more.
"You have a choice when you walk in the grocery store. Whole grain wheat items not only taste good, but they are good for you," he wrote. "Plan your meals so you will have six grains in your food plan every day. Make at least half of the grains whole grains."
Unruh received $250 and a plaque from the Kansas Wheat Commission. Luke Ryan of New Cambria won second place, earning $150 and a plaque from the Kansas Crop Improvement Association.
Anthony Imm, Phillipsburg, won third place, earning a plaque and $40; Christian Tipton, Munden, won fourth place, earning a plaque and $30; and Chance Snyder, Larned, won fifth place, earning a plaque and $25. Third, fourth and fifth places were sponsored by the Kansas Grain and Feed Association.
About 30 young people participated in the 4-H Wheat Variety Plot, according to Deryl Waldren, 4-H Specialist from Kansas State University's northwest area office. Participants gain time management, agronomy, organization and public speaking skills from the project.