10 Reasons to Thank a Kansas Wheat Farmer

Posted December 30, 2015

Kansas wheat farmers work hard each year to grow the nation’s largest supply of high quality hard red winter wheat. In turn, we at Kansas Wheat match that commitment to excellence. Join us this holiday season as we thank all who contribute to the success of Kansas Wheat and the National Festival of Breads. Here are some of our top highlights from 2015:

1. Record Yields in Kansas Wheat Yield Contest

Two of the three winning entries in the Kansas Wheat Yield Contest yielded more than 100 bushels per acre. Central regional winter Darren Nelson from Hutchinson yielded 108.48 bushels per acre with a blend of T158 and Everest. And Western regional winner Darwin Ediger from Meade yielded 103.18 bushels per acre with WB 4458 as well as the top prize for wheat quality. Not to be outdone, Doug Queen from Rossville, winner of the Eastern region, yielded 70.3 bushels per acre with Armor. All three winners credited management practices with achieving such high yields during such a turbulent growing season.

2. National Festival of Breads Benefits More than Finalists

Nearly 1,000 individuals attended the 2015 National Festival of Breads in June. Eight finalists from across the country competed, but Lisa Keys from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, took the top prize with her Smokehouse Cranberry Cheese Bread. In addition to tasting some great bread, attendees donated more than 654 pounds of food to the Flint Hills Breadbasket. An additional $3,500 was raised to support the Flint Hills Breadbasket and the “Baking the World a Better Place” campaign, a joint effort of Red Star Yeast and Stop Hunger Now. We are particularly thankful for all our sponsors, including King Arthur Flour, Red Star Yeast, the Kansas Soybean Commission, C&H Sugar/Domino Sugar and Farmer Direct Foods.

3. Farmer-Funded Research Explores New Technology, Genetic Sources

Kansas wheat farmers invested in fundamental research projects at the K-State wheat breeding programs in Manhattan and Hays, including wild and novel genes, marker-assisted selection, doubled haploids, high throughput phenotyping and a genomic selection model. Researchers are even using small unmanned aerial systems, commonly referred to as drones, to measure plant health and yield potential.

4. Kansas Wheat Alliance Varieties Top Planted in State

The February 2015 “Kansas Wheat Varieties” report from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that Kansas Wheat Alliance varieties, developed by Kansas State University, topped planting across the state. Everest was the top hard red winter wheat variety planted, accounting for 15.8 percent of the state’s 2014/15 wheat crop. Danby was the top hard white winter wheat variety planted, accounting for just less than 50 percent of the state’s white wheat production.

5. Spokespersons Share Love of Wheat

The Speak for Wheat spokesperson team continues to share wheat and wheat foods education at events across the state. The team includes relative newbies like Anita DeWeese from Pratt, who officially started as a spokesperson in spring 2015, as well as long-time supporters like Melanie Eddy from Syracuse, who started demonstrating breads in 1986.

6. TPP Agreement Completed, Opening Markets for Kansas Wheat

Kansas is the top-producing hard red winter (HRW) wheat state. And more of that high quality wheat is exported from our state than any other commodity. Thanks to new agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), completed this fall, Kansas wheat will have even more global market access. Overall, the TPP agreement will eliminate tariffs on U.S. wheat and wheat products exported to 11 countries, including Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia.

7. Yields Increase, Quality Average

The overall average yield for wheat increased in 2015 to 37 bushels per acre, up from 28 bushels per acre in 2014, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA NASS). Average protein content did decrease to 12.7 percent from 13.4 percent the year before, but still remained above the 10-year average of 12.4 percent. Overall, Kansas wheat farmers produced more than 321.9 million bushels of wheat, enough to produce 23.5 billion loaves of bread.

8. Taiwan Flour Mills Commit to Buying Kansas Wheat

Demand from outside our borders help drive wheat prices, which is why Kansas Wheat works hard to build relationships with buyers from around the world. In September, Taiwan flour millers, as part of the biennial Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission to the United States committed to purchasing 62.5 million bushels of U.S. wheat between 2015/16 and 2016/17. The deal, which includes Kansas HRW wheat, is worth $544 million.

9. Honoring Kansas Cooperatives

In October, Kansas Wheat shared stories of grain cooperatives who are making a big impact on the Kansas grain industry. The 85 farm marketing and supply co-ops in Kansas represent more than 82,600 voting members. Large and small, cooperatives invest in new infrastructure and services every year to help their members adapt to advanced technology and updated management practices.

10. Most Importantly – Thank You to Kansas Farmers

The most important people we need to thank are the Kansas wheat farmers and their families. The more than 20,000 Kansas farmers who grow wheat across the state. That includes young farmers like Jeremy Millershaski from Lakin who are just starting their farming career and couples who have honed their farming operations for decades like Ross and Judy Kinsler from Kingman and Richard and Glenda Randall from Scott City.

By Julia Debes