Kansas now leads the nation in acres of Hard White wheat

Kansas leads the nation in Hard White wheat planted acres, according to the Kansas Wheat Commission.

International and domestic demand for this new class of U.S. wheat is on the rise. Last year, U.S. Hard White exports were nearly 200,000 metric tons, a 10-fold increase over the previous five years.

U.S. flour mills are also expanding their use of this new wheat class.

Kansas farmers reported planting 445,000 acres, a 5,000-acre increase over last year. The top five counties are Logan, Thomas, Scott, Gray and Sherman, in that order.

According to the KWC, this has been a tough year for Hard White production due to the long-standing drought conditions in western Kansas. The drought has greatly diminished wheat yields.

In addition, just when the wheat was ripe in the northwest, persistent rains caused an unusual result for the high, dry plains-sprout-damaged wheat.

Four of the five top Hard White counties in Kansas are in the northwest and were heavily affected by sprouting while Gray County in the southwest was less harmed.

Feedlot operators near to northwest Kansas are monitoring the opportunity to use sprout-damaged wheat as an unusual and high-quality feed source. Research by Kansas State University livestock extension scientists suggests sprout-damaged wheat may have a higher feed value than unsprouted wheat.

One reason for the increase in planted acres for Hard White wheat has been the federally mandated Hard White Wheat Incentive Program. This provided an incentive of 20 cents per bushel.

But this payment requires the wheat to grade No. 2 or better, which means a minimum of 58 pounds per bushel test weight and less than 5 percent total defects, including sprout damage.

The KSU-developed wheat variety Trego leads the list of varieties planted in Kansas. Trego accounted for 72 percent (321,000 acres) of the Hard White acred planted. This compares to 58 percent last year.

Joe Martin developed Trego at the KSU Agricultural Research Center at Hays. Martin is working with the support of wheat producer funds through the KWC to develop the next generation of high-yielding Hard White wheats, with emphasis on improving sprout tolerance.

Preliminary results based on wheat nursery trials at Garden City indicate a few new experimental lines all have significantly higher sprout resistance than the varieties Trego and Lakin.

One of the new lines is even more sprout resistant than the top Hard Red Winter wheat, Jagger. These new varieties could be released for commercial production in 2005.

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