Wheat acreage in Nebraska has fallen sharply over the past few years. But it is still a major crop in western Nebraska and may become moreso because of the drought.
Wheat producers this region of the state have the opportunity early next month to hear the latest in wheat production and marketing issues, including new insect and disease pests.
The Wheat Technology Conference for 2013 will consist of several University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension experts who will speak on these topics in Alliance, Ogallala and Sidney.
The schedule is as follows:
Feb. 5: Alliance, Knight Museum.
Feb. 6: Ogallala, Quality Inn.
Feb. 7: Sidney, Holiday Inn.
Dipak Santra, alternative crops breeding specialist at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center, notes that western Nebraska always has had a large share of the state's wheat acreage. In recent years, expanding corn production in the eastern and central part of the state has shifted additional wheat acres to the west. "With the drought, wheat is more important to western producers because the crop will produce some kind of crop even when stressed by lack of moisture," Santra says
The focus of the 2013 Wheat Technology Conference will be on emerging pest, disease and weed challenges, plus fertilizer management, other production issues, industry trends, new technology in wheat genetics and market outlooks.
Several major issues have emerged since the last conference several years ago, according to UNL's Santra.
An insect pest, the wheat stem sawfly, was almost unknown to Panhandle producers several years ago, but now has become a significant threat. New strains of stripe rust disease are threatening older wheat varieties, and their control poses a management challenge. A new weed threat in dryland cropping systems is glyphosate-resistant kochia.
Another current topic is the link between wheat quality and marketability.
An emerging issue, biotech wheat, is a new technology that already has revolutionized corn, soybean and sugarbeet production. Genetically modified or transgenic wheat (biotech wheat) is likely to be in widespread use at some point in the future, according to Santra, so producers need to be aware of such new wheat varieties and what they will need to know about them.
Several large seed companies have been recently started wheat seed business, which very likely involved biotech wheat, Santra says. "Producers in Panhandle have limited knowledge about biotech wheat, or how to adjust production systems to grow it," he says.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at each location, and the program will conclude by about 3:45 p.m.
Early registrations can be made by contacting the Panhandle Research and Extension Center at 308-632-1230.
The Panhandle Center's website, panhandle.unl.edu, also has a downloadable brochure with a registration form that can be filled out and mailed back. Early registration fee is $35 per person by Jan. 28 and $45 thereafter and at the door.
For more information, contact: Dipak Santra at 308-632-1244; [email protected]; Karen DeBoer, Extension educator, Cheyenne-Banner-Kimball counties, 308-254-4455 or 1-866-865-1703, email [email protected]; or John Thomas, Extension educator, Box Butte County, 308-762-5616, email [email protected].