The single-largest research investment by Kansas wheat farmers came to life almost ten years ago when the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center opened its doors. Since that time, the center has set a standard of excellence for wheat research and worked to meet the specific needs of Kansas wheat growers. In recognition of the upcoming decade milestone, the Kansas Wheat Commission embarked on a statewide effort to gather Kansas wheat farmer feedback on the future — positioning the commission to continue finding innovative solutions to position wheat growers for success.
The effort included eight roundtable discussions involving 120 Kansas wheat farmers. Farmers shared insights on obstacles like infrastructure, market volatility and supply chain disruptions as well as the value they see in improved genetics, sustainable production practices and regionally specific management practices.
“One of the participants in the roundtables said, ‘It’s the little things together that make wheat pay,’” said Justin Gilpin, CEO of Kansas Wheat. “Helping farmers manage all of those little things well is our role as the checkoff. We need farmer input to ensure we’re doing that as effectively as possible.”
The roundtable discussions indicated Kansas wheat farmers particularly appreciate programs that highlight best practices, provide opportunities to connect with others in the industry and offer guidance specific to operations or regions. One of the Kansas Wheat programs that received high praise in the discussions was the Kansas Wheat Rx program, which helps farmers make management decisions and choose varieties based on their individual growing region’s characteristics.
Based on the feedback, Gilpin said Kansas Wheat’s team will continue to focus on research, education and information services that address farmers’ concerns and promote market development.
“Every day, our team focuses on providing the information and services needed to make all the elements farmers can control — genetics, agronomic and management decisions — work together,” he said. “The input provided through the statewide discussions strengthened our focus as a team and will help us determine how to better meet the needs of wheat farmers in Kansas.”
Farmers in these roundtables also confirmed the following commitments:
- Using cutting edge research to purposely select wheat varieties and use regionally specific management practices to produce the best wheat crop possible.
- Exploring new marketing opportunities presented by preferred variety programs and producing high protein wheat to meet market demand.
- Making agronomic decisions and applying research to reduce inputs and to select wheat varieties that will perform well in their region.
- Ensuring transparency with consumers to share the story of how a safe, nutritious wheat crop is produced.
- Continuing to work to get improved wheat varieties into the hand of farmers faster.
- Helping producers practically apply research innovation to their on-farm management decisions through regionally held Wheat Rx programs and other outreach.
An executive summary of the Kansas Wheat farmer stakeholder feedback is available at https://kswheat.com/sites/default/files/kansas_wheat_stakeholder_executive_summary_2022.pdf.