4-H members win with wheat
By DALTON HENRY
Special to The Hays Daily News
HUTCHINSON -- A little encouragement from friends can lead to big successes, which is exactly what William Still of Phillipsburg learned after winning the Kansas 4-H Wheat Variety Plot Display at this year's Kansas State Fair.
"I learned about the variety plot project after a couple of my friends had entered displays at the state fair," says Still, who is a senior at Phillipsburg High School. "They encouraged me to try the project. I found that I really enjoyed it."
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 (Still received Danby, Fuller, Hatcher, TAM 111 and Winterhawk) to grow in a plot. Still's plot location also served as the Phillips County Extension wheat plot allowing him to seed 19 additional varieties. Crop inputs including fertilizer, fungicide and herbicides are tracked, and harvest statistics are recorded. Still's plot was planted on September 28, 2012 at a seeding rate of 90 pounds per acre. The plot was fertilized with 70 pounds of nitrogen and 20 pounds of phosphorous per acre.
Despite the dry conditions that plagued his and most of the area's wheat crop, Still had several varieties yielding in the 60 bushels per acre range, with Danby at the top of his plot. Seed dealer Matt Van Allen and Extension agent Cody Miller helped with harvest and weighing the test plot.
"A lack of moisture was definitely the biggest challenge we faced with last year's plot," Still says. "I'm excited to enter again this coming year. In the last week, we've had more than three inches of rain, which should get this fall's wheat crop off to a good start."
A member of the Deer Creek 4-H Club in Phillips County, Still won the competition in part because of the uniqueness of his exhibit that incorporated wheat production and his love of hunting. The booth's theme "Hunting for the Best Variety," clad in camouflage and targets displayed photos of his plot, results from harvest and additional information about hard white wheat. The hard white wheat variety Danby's performance in his test plot sparked the additional interest in white wheat for Still.
"The two white wheats in the big plot, Danby and Clara CL had the top yields," says Still. "Which was pretty interesting since we don't have a lot of white wheat planted in our area."
Still 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.
Kyle Blakeslee, Ellinwood, won third place, earning a plaque and $40; Grant Unruh, Pawnee Rock, won fourth place, earning a plaque and $30; and BreAnn Anshutz, St. John, won fifth place, earning a plaque and $25. Third, fourth and fifth place prizes were sponsored by the Kansas Grain and Feed Association.
More than 20 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 and public speaking skills from the project.