By Drew Lawson
Cheney Free Press 

Wheat Producers meet in Davenport

Speakers share data, history, ongoing projects


Last updated 2/2/2023 at 8:49am

DAVENPORT—A packed crowd of wheat farmers jammed into the Lincoln County Fairgrounds meeting hall for the WSU Lincoln-Adams Extension-hosted Wheat Producers Meeting Thursday, Jan. 19 to hear four speakers discuss data, projects and observations regarding recent wheat production the university has influenced in recent years.

The four speakers gave five presentations on weeds and disease control, winter wheat variety selection, the state’s Soil Health Initiative, livestock/crops integration and a Wilke Research and Extension Farm update.

Neely shares updates on Variety Testing program

First up was Dr. Clark Neely, a Pullman-based Extension agronomist who updated Lincoln County farmers on a trial on fields northwest of Reardan off Riffe Road on Joe Bell’s land, saying Clearfield and CoAxium wheats were separated into two trials and planted Sept. 14, 2022.

Neely shared outputs of several types of cereals tested in recent years.

Battle hard red winter wheat had average yields and protein, above average test weight, decent emergence, average height and medium-to-early maturity. It was susceptible to stripe rust.

LCS Helix had below-average yield, excellent weight, above-average protein and good emergence. It was moderately susceptible to stripe rust.

LCS Jefe had high yields, average weight, low protein, good rust resistance, poor emergence and average height and maturity.

GS Bounty had average yield, weight, maturity and protein, was moderately susceptible to rust and had good to excellent emergence and tall height.

Nimbus had average yield, weight and protein, good resistance, poor to moderate emergence and average height and maturity.

AP Exceed had average yield and height, excellent weight, low protein and early maturity.

M-Pire had average yield and protein, excellent weight, medium height and early maturity.

Other new varieties to check out in 2023 include WB1621, WB1720 and WB1922, Neely said.

Variety trials were tested in Almira, Anatone, Creston, Eureka, Lamont and Reardan in 2022, he said.

The top soft winter wheat varieties tested in 2022 were TMC M-Press, Piranha, Sockeye, Devota and Norwest Dust. Of the 29 varieties tested, the average yield was 94 bushels per acre.

Hard red winter wheat varieties’ top five outputs were Scorpio, Whistler, Keldin, LCS Rocket and WB4510CLP.

“Scorpio has really excelled the last two years across all our testing zones,” Neely said.

An increased seeding rate impacted wheat grain yield the most in Almira, Reardan and Horse Heaven. It showed the lowest impact in Anatone, Lamont and Eureka, Neely shared.

Top soft white spring varieties in 2022 were Roger, Ryan, AP Mondovi, WB6121 and Seahawk, though differences in the trial weren’t drastic.

Esser recaps 25 years of tests

Ritzville-based WSU Extension Agronomist Aaron Esser took the stage next to recap the past 25 years of work testing various herbicides.

In the “begging years” of 1998-2003, Esser discussed testing DNS fertilization with Jim Melville in Sprague in 2000, trillate application with Rick Jones of Wilbur in 2000, fertilizer type with Jim O’Neil, DNS N fertilizer timing with Chris Laney of Sprague in 2003, direct seed drill comparisons produced by Rick Brunner and Mark Sheffels of Wilbur and mustard feasibility with Sheffels in 2002.

Esser also touched on studying a grasshopper infestation north of Wilbur in 2002, gauging barley and broadleaf weeds from 2002-2005 and recrop winter wheat feasibility in direct seeding.

“We spent a lot of time focused on spring crops,” he said.

While recapping “the early years of 2004-2009,” Esser recounted spring cereal fertilization in a 2-pass direct seed system with Steve and Ann Swannack of Lamont, no-till and conventional tillage fallow winter wheat production comparison with Rick Jones while noting that he spent a lot of time on chemical or no-till fallow, grassy weed control and profitable options for soft white winter wheat.

The “middle years” of 2010-present have been spent on much wireworm control, including testing traps near Davenport and Rosalia.

“No-till fallow-winter wheat system has less wireworm populations compared to continous cropping spring cereal systems with seed applied insecticides,” Esser said.

Soil health initiative in Washington

Mt. Vernon-based Washington Soil Health Initiative Extension Coordinator Molly McIlquham shared about the state’s Soil Health Iniative and told farmers that workers hope to conduct more soil assessments in Lincoln County.

Thus far, many soil assessments have been conducted statewide, but just one in Lincoln County near Edwall. Many have been conducted in West Adams County, Grant County, the Tri-Cities area and Whitman County near Pullman.

Lllewellyn discusses livestock, crop integration

Davenport-based livestock specialist Don Llewellyn then discussed the pros and cons of integrating livestock and crop care together as an introduction to speak on such a trial occurring at Wilke Farm.

He asked whether wheat farmers could integrate livestock as tools in their operation, as opposed to cow/calf production or weight gain. Benefits included a positive impact on the environment, direct use, dual purpose crops, residue removal and utilization of byproducts and co-products.

Potential pitfalls to relying on cattle include the possibility of cattle escaping the farm, not all feeds being created equally, toxicities, health and biosecurity and the 24/7 commitment that raising cattle costs.

As part of the Soil Health Initiative, a long-term agro-ecological research and extension site is being established at Wilke Farm, Llewellyn said.

Permanent and temporary fencing and initial soil sampling will begin this spring. Multifunction crops will be planted in May or June, winter wheat will be planted in September and October and winter wheat will be harvested in Aug. 2024.

“We’ll monitor soil health over time,” Llewellyn said.

Researchers hope to identify soil health indicators, build soil health and conduct preliminary economic assessments. Wheat will be on a 3-year rotation on an intensified system that includes livestock integration on the portion of the farm north of Highway 2 just east of Davenport.

Wilke Farm update

Esser returned to the stage to conclude the speakers Thursday and gave several economical updates of Wilke Farm, which includes 22 acres for certified research, 48 acres of no-till fallow, 89 acres of winter wheat on summer fallow, 14 acres of winter canola on summer fallow, 64 acres of continuous winter wheat, 53 acres of canola and 33 acres of spring wheat.

The 3-year rotation return over input costs were $219 an acre not including fixed costs and $293 rotation return over input costs over a 4-year rotation. Continuous rotation return over input costs were $215 per acre between the northwest and northeast fields.

“In 2022, return over costs were 83.1% higher than the three-year average (and) 94.5% greater than the 10-year average,” Esser said.

Author Bio

Drew Lawson, Reporter and sports writer

Drew Lawson is a reporter and sports writer for Free Press Publishing, including the Cheney Free Press and Davenport Times. He is a graduate of Eastern Washington University.

Phone: 15092356184


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