AMARILLO – The wheat growing season has been a difficult one, but researchers are using the challenges as a learning experience for themselves and growers alike, according to a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station researcher.
Many research highlights will be shared with producers during the Small Grains Field Day, scheduled May 25 at the research farm near Bushland, said Dr. Jackie Rudd, Experiment Station state wheat breeder.
Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Experiment Station’s Kenneth B. Porter Wheat Building. Other sponsors of the event include Texas Cooperative Extension, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and West Texas A&M University.
Tours will begin at 9 a.m. and stops are planned to look at different varieties, the wheat breeding program, no-till production, irrigation equipment and systems, and the Texas High Plains Evapotranspiration Network, Rudd said.
“Every year is different,” he said. “We try to use the environment to benefit our research. This year the drought has certainly been difficult for producers, but it is something we can use to improve genetics, as well as management systems, to increase production in dry years.”
In addition, Dr. Ellen Jordan, Extension dairy specialist, will discuss the dairy needs for wheat and triticale silage. Under certain situations, silage may be more profitable than harvesting wheat for grain, said Dr. Brent Bean, Extension agronomist.
Managing the crop for high protein content will be important, Bean said. Also, the silage can usually be harvested early enough to allow for double-cropping under irrigation.
Dr. Charlie Rush, Experiment Station plant pathologist, will discuss the latest research on wheat streak mosaic and the High Plains disease, both of which have greatly reduced the yield potential in many fields this spring.
Dr. Carl Patrick, Extension entomologist, will explain the new “Glance N’ Go” system to determine economic threshold for greenbugs.
The greenhouses and growth chambers also will be open for guided walking tours to allow visitors to see the wheat breeding program, as well as the entomology program.
The featured lunch speaker will be Dr. Bill McCutchen, Experiment Station deputy associate director from College Station. He will speak on “A Platform for Yield Gain through Genetic Discovery in Wheat.”
Researchers today are combining traditional and molecular breeding to improve quality and yield of row crops to include wheat, McCutchen said. “Yield” genes are quite diverse and include any gene or set of genes that help the plant protect itself and/or improve its yield potential.
Examples of “yield” genes already identified or currently being developed include: insect and disease resistance, drought tolerance, and several associated with photosynthetic pathways.
“By combining traditional and molecular breeding techniques, the future of agriculture in Texas, North America and around the world will be enhanced,” he said.
“Molecular breeding doesn’t mean genetically engineered,” McCutchen said. “But the use of molecular markers provides breeders with a better roadmap to improve row crops like wheat in a more timely and precise manner.”
McCutchen recently joined the Experiment Station, previously working for DuPont Ag and Nutrition and Pioneer Hi-Bred as a crop protection coordinator for research and product development for insect, disease and herbicide tolerance in row crops.
“Dr. McCutchen provided the vision and leadership that led to a new generation of dual-herbicide-tolerant crops, including corn, soybeans and cotton, as well as new generation weed-management programs,” said Dr. John Sweeten, resident director for the Texas A&M University System Research and Extension Center in Amarillo.
McCutchen will be facilitating the development and commercialization of intellectual property from Experiment Station research, with special emphasis on the biological agents, Sweeten said.
Special guests will be 12 resident directors of regional research and Extension centers around the state who will be attending a Council of Resident Directors meeting.
The spring crops field day program has been submitted for three continuing education units from the Texas Department of Agriculture and three certified crop advisor credits.
For more information, contact Rudd or Bean at (806) 677-5600.