The Buzz

We meet the new Hays wheat breeder, celebrate Wellington’s ‘Kansas Wheat Festival’ and follow-up on an Ellis County land sale.

Immediately after World War II, the U.S. played a major role in rebuilding Japan. In the course of doing so, we introduced a Western diet to the Japanese people, which meant more wheat foods and less rice. Looking back, I suppose the American government was keen to find a ready market for U.S. wheat, of which there was an abundance (Japan now imports more than 3 million metric tons of wheat from the U.S. each year). Over time,  that “western diet” is believed to have led to a spate of health problems, the online magazine “Slate”reports.

  • The Japanese government is beginning to encourage the use of more whole rice foods (at the expense of wheat foods), the article reports. Japanese consumers are incorporating rice flour in breads, pastas and even pizza dough…
  • Do not accuse the Kansas Legislature of standing pat on topical issues of the day. Prior to its April recess, the Legislature passed HB 2536, “the Wheat Festival Bill,” sending it to Governor Brownback’s desk for his signature. The bill names the long-standing Wellington Wheat Festival as the “Official Wheat Festival of Kansas.” The original bill was amended so that the Clyde Watermelon Festival will be the “Official Watermelon Festival of Kansas.” The Wellington event takes place July 12-14…
  • Wellington is the county seat of Sumner County, which routinely leads the state in total wheat production. In 2010, the county’s wheat farmers produced more than 12 million bushels of Hard Red Winter wheat…
  • This week we got to meet Guorong Zhang, the new wheat breeder at Kansas State University’s Agricultural Research Center – Hays. Dr. Zhang is a native of China and worked for four years at North Dakota State University developing spring wheat varieties. Most recently, he worked at Tennessee State University developing biofuels crops…
  • “I’m looking forward to developing new varieties adapted to western Kansas,” Zhang says. “Of course, yield is number one, but drought, heat stress and quality are critical. In white wheat, we need to continue working on pre-harvest sprouting resistance”…
    Guorong Zhang, wheat breeder, K-State Ag Research Center Hays.
  • Dr. Zhang and his wife have a 14-year-old daughter. He began working in Hays on March 2, succeeding longtime breeder Joe Martin, who retired earlier this year…
  • Speaking of wheat breeding, Limagrain has opened a quality testing and baking laboratory at its Fort Collins, Colorado headquarters. The laboratory uses a variety of equipment to determine whether wheat varieties are best for bread-making or cookie dough. It features a machine to measure single kernel hardness and a Near-Infrared Reflectance Spectroscope, which can easily evaluate protein and moisture content of individual samples…
  • Limagrain Cereal Seeds is a farmer-run, farmer-owned cooperative and joint venture between the French parent company Limagrain, Arcadia Biosciences and Vilmorin…
  • In England, scientists are undergoing research trials for a genetically modified wheat that resists wheat-damaging aphids, by giving off a pheremone that attracts predators of the insect…
  • The article in England’s The Guardian says members of Europe’s environmental extreme groups oppose the technology, which could dramatically reduce the need for pesticides to control the aphids…
  • Good news for Great Plains, Inc. The farm equipment manufacturer will expand its Salina manufacturing plant by nearly 64,000 square feet, and add more than 20 jobs, according to the Salina Journal. The $3.5 million expansion earned a tax exemption from the Salina City Commission. Great Plains has more than 1,300 employees in several smaller Kansas communities…
  • The “Land Sale of the Week” features two dryland tracts totaling 480 acres in Rush and Ellis counties that sold April 4. Tract one, about 150 acres adjacent to Hwy. 183 between Schoenchen and Liebenthal, featured 55 acres planted to wheat, 55 acres to be planted to milo and the balance in grass. Buyer was to receive one-third of the crops, and pay one-third of the fertilizer. The tract brought $266,000 ($1,773 per acre). Tract two, about 320 acres between Antonino and Schoenchen, featured 295 acres cropland (175 acres in wheat, 54 acres to be planted to milo and the balance open) with the buyer getting one-third of the crops and sharing one-third the expenses. The tract sold for $545,000 ($1,703 per acre)…
  • Auctioneer Larry Brenner, Farmland Auction, says the farms featured Class II-III , Harvey and Ulysses soils. Bidding was active, and prices were good given that the sales did not include mineral rights.
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