By Mike Surbrugg

Globe Farm Editor

COLUMBUS, Kan. - Farmers can spread their risks by planting more than one wheat variety in the same field, Gary Kilgore, Kansas State University extension agronomist in Southeast Kansas, told people attending a grain-production tour at experimental fields near Columbus.

The fields are managed by the university's Southeast Agricultural Center.

Kilgore told farmers to never blend hard- and soft-wheat varieties. Hard wheat is used to bake bread and soft wheat for pastries and other products. The two types of wheat can be blended only during milling.

Neither should grain from any "blended" fields be saved for seed. "You need to blend equal amounts of each variety when you plant," he said.

Varieties to blend need to have different levels of resistance to diseases and other problems, Kilgore said.

"Blending Jagger and 2127 hard wheat varieties would not be a bad idea," he said.

This was a great year for wheat in southeast Kansas. Sixteen hard-wheat varieties averaged 59 bushels per acre in tests at the center's fields near Parsons. Yields ranged from 76 bushels for variety 2174 to 41 bushels for 7853.

The most popular variety in farmers' fields, Jagger, averaged 55 bushels. Jagger was hurt by wheat scab disease and lodging. Kilgore said Jagger has not done well for the last two years at Parsons because it is losing its resistance to leaf rust. Jagger has averaged 41 bushels per acre over two years.

Several wheat fields had more than normal lodging this year. Kilgore credits much of it to excessive fertilizer and ideal growing conditions that make grain heads heavy or to rains as wheat matures.

County extension centers have reports to show wheat varieties' resistance to different diseases.

Varieties 2174 and Karl 92 are highly vulnerable to Hessian fly. "Hessian fly damage often looks like hail damage," he said.

Hessian fly is not tied to planting date, but from a spring invasion of the flies, he said.

Southeast Kansas wheat plots for two years have found soft wheat varieties produce 10 bushels more per acre than hard-wheat varieties. Thirteen soft-wheat varieties this year averaged 74 bushels per acre at Parsons. The top yield was 88 bushels per acre with MO980525, an experimental variety from Missouri. Soft wheat had less lodging than hard wheat, he said.

He then talked about weeds. Various chemicals can control cheat, wild mustard, henbit and rye grass.

The agronomist does not recommend spraying henbit. It comes on early in the spring and lasts about three weeks with "pretty purple blooms." It does not lower yields and spraying can add to costs with no benefits, he said.

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