Hopeful was the word from Kansas State University Extension Crops and Soils Specialist Jim Shroyer as he evaluated wheat at the Extension wheat test plot on the David and Jesse Blasi Farm Thursday afternoon.

Each of the 24 varieties in the test plot was raised under dryland conditions and because of moisture in the area, each of the varieties looked to be in pretty good shape although some are showing signs of stripe rust.

Each variety has specific traits dealing with drought, disease, insects, pH levels, height, yield, grazing and so forth.

In spite of the cold temperatures and the freezes that hit the area on April 10 and April 23 that set the wheat back, Shroyer remains optimistic about the 2013 wheat crop.

Wheat is a tough crop and will work hard to produce a crop, said Pratt County Extension Agent Mark Ploger.

If the area continues to get moisture, the wheat crop could produce a good harvest in spite of the freezing temperatures that hit the area and damaged the wheat crop.

But the farmers were curious what varieties would produce the most bushels.

From the test samples in the plot, Shroyer said he had the best hopes for Armour and Everest for the established wheat varieties. At this point they show the most promise.

Among the new varieties that are showing good potential are SY Southwind, 1863, Red Hawk and WB Cedar. Shroyer said he would keep a close eye on these varieties to see how they performed.

The quality of the wheat depends on where the field is located in the county. Right in the Pratt area all the wheat looks pretty good in spite of drought and the late season freezes, Shroyer said.

But travel just a little way outside the immediate area and the quality of wheat starts to drop. Go south towards Sawyer and a drop in wheat quality is evident in just a few miles.

Head west into Kiowa County and the drop in quality is much more evident. The quality continues to drop the further west from Pratt County the fields are located. In the far west of the state, things don't look too good.

Besides dealing with a lack of moisture and freezing temperatures, farmers have to deal with disease and insects.

Extension Entomologist Sarah Zukoff said the test plots were showing of lots of aphids. But that wasn't necessarily a bad thing because some aphids have very little effect on plant growth. Knowing the species was vital for farmers.

Along with aphids, the plots were showing ample insect predators so that was good news.

Some strip rust is showing in some wheat varieties. From 50 percent to 75 percent of the wheat crop has headed out and the greatly limits a farmers options for treating rust.

Erick DeWolf, KSU Extension plant pathologist, said the weather would determine what action, if any, farmers would need to take to against stripe rust.

If it turns off hot and dry, it will slow the rust down and farmers will probably not have to spray.

However, if the area gets more moisture, it will increase the rust problem and farmers will have to decide quickly within the next few days if they need to spray for stripe rust, DeWolf said.

Each of the over 60 farmers in attendance knows that much can happen between now and harvest. So they will do what farmers have done for centuries. They will watch and wait.

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