Kansas farmers, wheat breeder featured in new U.S. wheat film

Posted January 21, 2021

Kansas wheat leaders Justin Knopf and Kyler Millershaski and K-State wheat breeder Allan Fritz shared their stories in the new film — "Wholesome: The Journey of U.S. Wheat". U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) produced the 25-minute film to demonstrate how the passion, purpose and investments by the people in the wheat industry are integral to the commodity's reputation as the world's most reliable wheat.

"In our organization's mission to promote U.S. wheat exports, our representatives focus on the consistently high quality of our supplies," said USW Vice President of Communications Steve Mercer. "Through this film, the people at every step of the journey to export tell their own stories about how they thoughtfully produce new varieties, care for the land and the crop, and handle the wheat responsively to ensure it meets customer needs. This is an educational program that makes the stunning beauty of the land and the emotional attachment of these dependable people to the industry a key part of the story."

Fritz discussed how wheat breeding programs, like that at Kansas State University, work to develop and release wheat varieties that help farmers address production constraints and meet specific wheat food needs to bring healthy, nutritious food to the table.

"The journey of wheat to food tables around the world begins in a facility like this — in a breeding program," Fritz said. "What we're doing is taking the opportunity with the natural genes that we already have to put those together in a package that is the healthiest and the best for the environment that we possibly can."

Knopf, a fifth-generation farmer in central Kansas and president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers (KAWG), discussed how wheat farmers monitor the crop throughout the growing season, emphasizing how farmers take great care in choosing what products to apply to their fields.

"When I make the decision to use a particular product, whether it be to fertilize the crop — to give it the fertility...that it needs to grow and produce nutritious grain and good grain quality — or to use a fungicide to protect the tissue from a fungal disease that's affecting it, I always weigh those trade-offs with the end in mind," Knopf said. "...Consumers can be confident we've done our due diligence at making those responsible decisions and weighing the trade-offs when utilizing products on our farm."

Millershaski, a third-generation farmer from southwest Kansas and KAWG vice president, also emphasized how Kansas farmers are proud to produce an abundant supply of high-quality wheat, generation after generation.

"I would say as a farmer, and as a wheat grower specifically, there's certainly a responsibility and a weight that you feel to not only provide a high-quality product but enough of it to feed the world," he said. "That's why we're real selective in our varieties and make sure it has the right fertilizer and nutrients to grow and perform well. We want to have the bragging rights that — 'hey, we've got the best wheat in the world. Buy from us.'"

USW plans to use the film in seminars, courses and trade events as they conduct the organization's work to inform world wheat buyers and users about U.S. wheat export quality throughout 2021. Individual short subject films will also be released throughout the year.

Watch "Wholesome: The Journey of U.S. Wheat" here


Written by Julia Debes for Kansas Wheat