Annual wheat field day set for May 21 at Bushland research facilities

New varieties, food quality and dual-purpose management highlight agenda

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608,
Contact: Dr. Qingwu Xue, 806-354-5803,
Dr. Jourdan Bell, 806-677-5600,
Dr. Jackie Rudd, 806-677-5600,

AMARILLO – Wheat updates on everything from new varieties to food quality to dual-purpose management will be highlighted at the annual Wheat Field Day on May 21 near Bushland.

A Texas A&M AgriLife Research study using wireless infrared thermometers will be a part of the wheat field tour. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Kay Ledbetter)

A Texas A&M AgriLife Research study using wireless infrared thermometers will be a part of the wheat field tour. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Kay Ledbetter)

The free event will begin with registration at 8:30 a.m. in the Porter Wheat Building at the Conservation and Production Laboratory, which is operated by Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service.

Tours and indoor presentations will run from 9 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., and include a lunch sponsored by the Texas Wheat Producers Board. Drinks and donuts will be provided throughout the day by Attebury Grain.

Three Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education credits will be offered for private pesticide applicators – one general and two integrated pest management – and five certified crop advisor units will be offered in nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management, crop management and manure management.

Producers will be able to see historic, current and new varieties growing in the field, said Dr. Jackie Rudd, AgriLife Research wheat breeder in Amarillo. The two newest varieties that will be highlighted are TAM 114, released because of its exceptional baking quality, and TAM 204, released for grazing and dual purpose use also as grain.

“Variety selection is one of the most important decisions a producer can make,” said Dr. Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist in Amarillo. “Selecting a variety based on yield potential as well as the variety’s disease and insect resistance and/or tolerance, lodging and drought tolerance can enhance yield and ultimately minimize risk.”

In addition to having the traditionally strong program on wheat breeding, this year more emphasis has been added on the relationship between wheat in the High Plains and the cattle industry, said Dr. Qingwu Xue, AgriLife Research crop physiologist in Amarillo.

While about 3 million acres of wheat are planted each year in this region on average, only about 1.6 million acres are harvested for grain, Bell said. Crop failure accounts for some loss, but the majority of the non-harvested acreage is directed toward annual grazing for stocker cattle.

Guest speakers for the indoor portion of the field day will be Dr. Steve Amosson, AgriLife Extension economist in Amarillo, discussing “The Importance of Agriculture and Small Grains to the Texas High Plains,” and Dr. Joseph Awika, with Texas A&M’s Cereal Quality Laboratory in College Station, discussing “Wheat Quality – Importance, Measurements and Progress.”

The tours have been divided up to look at irrigated and dryland variety trials and breeding nurseries, rotational practices on terraces, plant pathology plots and irrigation management, and management for dual-purpose grazing/grain production.

Tour topics and speakers will be:

– Small grains forage trial, Dr. Clark Neely, AgriLife Extension state small grains and oilseeds specialist, College Station.

– Rapid estimation of forage growth rate, Dr. Srirama Reddy, AgriLife Research assistant research scientist in wheat breeding, Amarillo.

– Wheat variety trials in the High Plains, Bell.

– New TAM wheat varieties, Rudd.

– Using wheat in rotations to conserve soil and water, Dr. Louis Baumhardt, USDA-ARS soil scientist, Bushland.

– Long-term soil nitrogen availability and dryland wheat nitrogen requirements, Dr. Robert Schwartz, USDA-ARS soil scientist, Bushland.

– Drought tolerance in the new wheat varieties, Xue.

– New sensor technology and variable rate irrigation, Luke Britten, USDA-ARS technician, Bushland.

– Wheat streak mosaic virus, Dr. Charlie Rush, AgriLife Research plant pathologist, Amarillo.

– Other diseases in wheat, Dr. Ron French, AgriLife Extension plant pathologist, Amarillo.

– Greenbug and wheat curl mite damage and control, Dr. Ed Bynum, AgriLife Extension entomologist; and genetic resistance, Dr. Shuyu Liu, AgriLife Research small gains geneticist, and Dr. Chor Tee Tan, AgriLife Research assistant research scientist, all of Amarillo.

– Wheat grazing research: Use of resistant varieties and planting date study, Dr. Jacob Price, AgriLife Research senior research associate, Amarillo.

– Supplementation to improve cattle performance on wheat pasture, Dr. Jenny Jennings, AgriLife Research beef nutritionist, Amarillo.

Also available inside during registration and the morning program will be booths featuring plant disease and pest diagnostics, tables with AgriLife Extension publications and seed company brochures, and selected research posters.

Other indoor and lunch speakers will include:

– Texas Wheat Producers Board update, Katie Heinrich, director of communications and producer relations in Amarillo.

– USDA-ARS update, Dr. Larry Chandler, USDA-ARS Northern Plains Area director, Fort Collins, Colorado.

– AgriLife wheat research, Dr. Bill McCutchen, AgriLife Research associate director, College Station.

– The making of a TAM wheat variety, Rudd.

The coordinators said several area businesses have donated items for door prizes, including Sunray Co-op, Syngenta, Crop Production Services, Wylie Sprayers and Bayer CropScience.

For more information, contact Bell at 806-677-5600 or; Xue at 806-354-5803,; or Rudd, 806-677-5600,


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