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LOCAL KSU ALUMNI GROWS KS BILL SNYDER WHEAT

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Retired Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder was honored at a luncheon on March 14 at the Kansas Wheat Alliance (KWA) headquarters, Manhattan. While one would think the talk might have been about football, Coach Snyder was responding to the honor of the naming of a hard red winter wheat variety after him, KS Bill Snyder. 
Select wheat farmers, seed growers and industry professionals were invited to attend to hear from K-State’s retired football coach. Local farmers, Jess and Laryce Schwieterman were able to attend. 
Also in attendance was Dr. Marty Vanier, whose family was the lead donor of the Research Foundation’s Fields Forward Campaign, Jess said, “I met her when I was involved in the KARL (Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership) program. She is the senior program manager for strategic partnership development for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility for KSU.”
Vanier listed Snyder’s 16 goals for success, which are commitment, unselfishness, unity, improve, be tough, self-discipline, great effort, enthusiasm, eliminate mistakes, never give up, don’t accept losing, no self-limitations, expect to win, consistency, leadership, and responsibility.
The Schwietermans agree, these goals for success closely resemble the day-to-day operation of farming, “We strive to be good, productive people caring about others and working together. We are growers sharing knowledge of what has or has not worked for us. We hope to help people out by helping their wheat production,” added Jess. 
KS Bill Snyder is the result of the long-running breeding program at the K-State Agricultural Research Center at Hays, led by Dr. Guorong Zhang, Kansas State University wheat breeder, “His expertise is western Kansas varieties,” said Jess. 
The Schwietermans as KWA Trailblazers, which is based on volume of sales, had the opportunity to plant the variety last fall. As K-State alumni, the Schwieterman family proudly wear their purple and one might assume they planted the KS Bill Snyder variety for the name, but in fact they only knew the variety as 19H10. 
“This is the first year we have had access to it, last year it was to the breeding places, then this year had enough seed for a few of us here in Western Kansas,” said Jess.  
They were interested in the variety because of the high tillering variety (number of heads it will put on a plant), wheat streak mosaic, and high plains virus resistance, high-yield potential, and good drought tolerance. Another advantage is the plant is shorter, so it stands well for high-yielding operation. “It will stand in high-yield environments such as irrigated when the yield exceeds one hundred bushel, they say, we have not seen that yet,” said Jess.
As trailblazers they must have several qualities and operations in place such as a strong desire to support K-State Wheat Breeding, access to seed conditioning facilities capable of producing high quality seed, seed production management to maximize the amount of seed meeting Trailblazer standards. 
In addition to timely reporting and meeting financial obligations to KWA and KSU, a demonstrated plan for increasing marketing/sales of KWA varieties, demonstrated willingness to participate in the Trailblazer Marketing Structure, and adherence to the requirements.
The Schwieterman family had the opportunity to tour the Wheat Innovation Center. “The greenhouse is always growing, always staged out, and someone is planting sweet corn every day. Growing the plant for the pollen using it as part of the doubled haploid process,” said Jess, “The process accelerates the breeding of a new wheat variety by several years.”  
“The room is pink with LED lights and is a closed room versus a greenhouse outside at risk of the of the elements,” said Laryce, “Another room we visited was like winter!” 
According to Jess, due to declining congressional funding of research, Kansas Wheat Growers and Kansas Wheat Alliance have created a structure to raise more money for development of wheat varieties. 
Laryce further explains by saying, “Every time we sell wheat in town there is a little bit of money from each bushel that helps to fund the Wheat Innovation Center which was built by checkoff programs which promote and provide research.”  
While with everything new and exciting, there can be a BUT, and the challenge with the KS Bill Snyder is it is a single use season, “That means, in order to raise good wheat, you are going to have to buy seed wheat every year, making it illegal for growers to keep the seed with this variety,” explained Jess.  
“This is why K-State is doing the research, growers who plant certified seed every year, are raising better wheat,” said Jess, “Three years down the road, there is going to be something else, and it’s going to be better!”  
By continuing to improve, the yields continue to improve, and Jess feels the mills want a better variety, “We are truly the center of wheat, there is other central areas, but this is where the deep soil is at and where the acres are.” 
As trailblazers, they have experienced some failures. One of the varieties was put to the test with the wettest growing and filling season in the spring they have ever seen, “And we had it irrigated well prior to that,” said Jess. 
But a disease called head scab which can happen from being planted in corn stalks and wet conditions, was a learning experience. “We had to dump all of it, it did not have good enough germination to sell,” said Laryce, “And we did not want to take the chance and plant it on our own farm to try and produce seed of that variety to sell next year.”
Looking at the crop in the ground today, Jess says it looks good, but moisture is needed. “We are still tillering, but we have not started to joint yet. The cold weather helps to slow things down, so we benefit from the cold morning, buying us more time until the moisture comes.” 

 

 

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