May 24, 2001 | By: Laura Skillman
PRINCETON, Ky.

A hot, sunny day greeted more than 100 people attending the 2001 University of Kentucky wheat field day recently where the latest research on production methods and pest controls were discussed.

Wagons stopped at eight stations among the wheat plots at UK's Research and Education Center in Princeton.

The field day highlighted the efforts of the UK Wheat Science Group, a team of specialists from six departments at the university with its mission to plan and implement coordinated research and educational Extension programs for the benefit of Kentucky growers.

Since its inception in 1997, the Wheat Science Group has made an impact on wheat production in the state.

At the field day, farmers and crop advisors spent several minutes looking through no-till test plots where a wide number of varieties were being studied.

Many of the plots showed damage as a result of freezing temperatures in April. The no-till plots showed greater damage than did the conventionally tilled plots, said Dave Van Sanford, UK wheat breeder.

Van Sanford also highlighted properties within the varieties, both positive and negative, such as their resistance level to mildew and scab.

The plots give farmers a look at the qualities in varieties that help them in the decision on what to plant in their own fields.

Some white wheat varieties are also being tested in the plots. White wheat is grown only in very small acreages and only under contract in Kentucky, but it has promise. Millers like it more than soft red winter wheat for some of their products.

Van Sanford said he hopes the market continues to grow and believes there is potential for a 10-fold increase in production if a Kentucky cookie and cracker manufacturer expands its use of Kentucky-grown white wheat, which currently amounts to one month's supply for the company.

At another tour stop, a study of how plant stands impact yield was reviewed by James Herbek, UK Extension grains specialist. In test plots at the research facility, both the size and number of skips were checked. The results show that a less than perfect stand can still result in optimum yields.

A study looking at the impact of tilled wheat planting in an otherwise no-till crop rotation was also reviewed. Under the study, continuous no- tillage shows to have an advantage in corn and soybean yields compared when tillage was used to plant wheat.

Other studies highlighted on the tour included information on controls for Italian ryegrass, head scab resistance, research on a new chlorophyll meter and an insect update.