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Garden City field day shows drought effects

By Jennifer M. Latzke

Drought and its affects on the wheat crop were on everyone’s minds at the K-State Southwest Reserach and Extension Center’s Spring Field Day, May 27, in Garden City, Kansas. (Journal photo by Jennifer M. Latzke.)

The K-State Southwest Research and Extension Center, Garden City, Kansas, hosted its annual Spring Field Day May 27. With just a little over 17 inches of rain on average for the year, and just 2.05 inches since the first of the year, 2014 is shaping up to be the driest spring on record for the station, explained John Holman, cropping systems agronomist.

“We are sitting at 40 percent of normal precipitation,” Holman told the crowd. The center applied about 7 inches of additional irrigation over the wheat variety plots since they were planted in the fall. In a way, the extreme conditions showed just what the wheat varieties are capable of producing when challenged.

Guorong Zhang, wheat breeder at the Kansas State University Agriculture Research Center-Hays, was on hand to discuss the public and private wheat varieties on trial and their performance under the harsh drought conditions.

One experimental variety out of the K-State program was KS 061406-LN-37, with more than 10 percent more yield potential than Everest, from which it’s derived, Zhang said. Its resistance to rusts is still unsure as yet, since this year was so dry and there weren’t a lot of rust races to challenge wheat. Breeders are excited about this variety’s yield potential, Zhang said, but they still need one more year of baking quality data to see what its place on the market will be.

Showing promise, yet again, was TAM 112 and TAM 111, both of which can endure longer periods of drought, Zhang said. “TAM 112 has more yield potential than 111,” he said. “It also has wheat curl mite resistance, which makes the wheat resistant to wheat streak mosaic virus.”

Limagrain’s T153 is a 2011 release with good drought tolerance and stripe rust resistance, Zhang said. “It looks like it will perform good this year,” he added.

Oklahoma State University’s Billings, showed it’s a good fit for irrigated acres in western Kansas, Zhang said. “It has good resistance to rusts,” he said. “And it is a medium to early variety.”

Another variety out of OSU, DBLSTOP Plus, is a Clearfield wheat variety that shows tolerance to drought, resistance to rust and offers the herbicide resistance package that comes with the Clearfield genes, Zhang said.

For those with an eye toward white wheats, Plainsgold Antaro, a Colorado State University-bred variety, is a good drought tolerant derivative of TAM 101, Zhang said. It offers stripe rust resistance and is not prone to sprouting, he added.

K-State canola breeder Mike Stamm, with Holman, discussed the various canolas on trial at the Garden City location.

The location is the site of the National Winter Canola Trials, Stamm said. More than 50 varieties of canola were planted in the study, including some international varieties that are being screened for their use in western Kansas and the southern Great Plains. They were planted about Aug. 30.

“We irrigated soon after we planted, and then we had another 1 inch of rain,” Holman said. “That came up to about 2.5 inches of moisture at planting, and it really deepened the seed placement.” The stand wasn’t as established as well as he’d hoped, and so they replanted the trials three weeks later. That wasn’t the only challenge Mother Nature threw at the crop this year. In May a hail storm took the top off of the developing crop, Stamm said. However, canola, as an indeterminate crop, continued to grow and put on new pods.

The station found success with a split pivot of corn and canola, Holman said. The combination of a more drought-tolerant crop like canola and a more water-intensive crop like corn seems to utilize water resources to the fullest extent. The next phase of study at the station will look at irrigation scheduling on canola, Holman said. Specifically, when is the best time to apply water during canola’s growth stages to maximize water efficiency on the crop.

Some late spring freezes affected the station’s canola in that the plants weren’t quite as tall as in year’s past, Stamm said. However, he cautioned farmers that height isn’t exactly a predictor of yield. Some of these canola varieties can be shorter and have some of the best yields in the state. They just won’t know until harvest and the crop’s in the bin.

Sarah Zukoff, the center’s entomologist, was also on hand to talk about insect pressures and identification in fields. And Holman discussed cover crops and their best uses in low water situations.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached by phone at 620-227-1807 or by email at jlatzke@hpj.com.

Date: 6/9/2014

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