SOUTH-CENTRAL, KANSAS–On May 29, Stafford and Pratt county farmers were treated to a virtual wheat plot tour live on Zoom. The event was also recorded as it featured specialists who described plant height, disease and pest resistance, straw strength, standability, yield production, drought tolerance and other factors in special wheat crop stands.
Every spring, Kansas State University Extension provides wheat tours across the state.
Cooperating producers set aside a portion of a wheat field and plant short strips of wheat varieties, side by side, for comparison.
Usually, dozens of farmers in the area gather at the plot site in the late spring to hear Extension specialists describe the characteristics of each variety, some new, some that have been around for years. But, because of the coronavirus this year, Extension agents from Stafford and Pratt counties created a virtual tour that producers could view live online, said Vicki Simonsen, Pratt County Extension Agent.
This was necessary because of the current Extension policy for no in-person meetings until July 4.
Specialists jumped on board to provide their analysis and Simonsen took pictures of each variety just before the tour. The technology required extension staff to develop new video skills to deliver the information to the audience.
"We had to be very, very creative," Simonsen said.
Because the wheat varieties were very similar, Pratt County and Stafford County Extension combined their tours into one.
“High definition photos were taken of each variety in each plot and put into a power point presentation,” said Stafford County Extension Agent Amanda Staub who was doing her first wheat plot this year.
There have been other Stafford County wheat plot tours but this the first for Staub.
The Pratt County plot featured 18 varieties, 10 of which were also on the Stafford County Plot that featured 17 varieties.
The virtual tour allowed producers to get information on varieties not in their county plot.
"We got to see varieties they had but we didn't and the same for them," Simonsen said. “Stripe rust has been an issue this year. A fungicide was applied and that did the job this year. Overall, it's looking pretty good.”
Providing insight were plant pathologist Eric DeWolf, wheat specialist Romulo Lollato and plant pathologist Kelsey Anderson.
The tour is posted on Pratt and Stafford County Extension YouTube and on Facebook. Producers can go to the web sites and check on the wheat plots and check out how their favorite variety performed.
Varieties this year in the Pratt Count plot are Everest, Zenda, LCS Chrome, LCS Valiant, LCS Yeti, SY Achieve CL2, SY Benefit, Bob Dole, Sy Grit, SY Legend, SY Monument, SY Rugged, SY Wolverine, WB Grainfield, WB 4269, WB 4303,WB 4515, WB 4699.
Variety companies are: LCS Limagrain Cereal Seeds; SY AgriPro (Bob Dole developed by KSU); WB WestBred; Kansas Wheat Alliance (Everest, Zenda.)