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Indiana wheat growers reap long-term benefits from Purdue Extension field tests

April 3, 2017
Jon Neufelder, a Purdue Extension educator, operates a small-plot harvester. The harvester is specif

Farmers in southwest Indiana grow more wheat than in any other region of the state. In these counties south of Interstate 70, Purdue Extension field trial results are an important source of information for a network of growers, crop advisers, and agribusiness professionals.

Posey County farmer Matt Schenk relies on Purdue Extension field tests to help determine which wheat varieties he plants.

“I’m not brand loyal because at the end of the day, it’s all about yield,” he says.

Purdue Extension educators and specialists have been working alongside local farmer cooperators to conduct the trials since the early 1980s.

One of those cooperators is Byron Stallings in Spencer County. He says field test results have helped him lower his operating costs and improve soil health.

Jon Neufelder, a Purdue Extension educator, conducts on-farm research in Posey County.

“We meet with seed dealers from different companies to learn what new technology or developments are coming that may have a bearing on which crop trials are selected,” he says.

Researchers plant 40 to 50 wheat varieties in test plots each year in Spencer and Posey counties. Then, they collect data to determine yield, lodging, and resistance to disease. Growers and businesses say this information is important because it reflects local conditions.

Chuck Mansfield, an agronomist at the Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center in Knox County, compiles the statistical data for analysis.

“It takes all of the collaborators pulling together to provide this service, which provides counties south of I-70 with information to rotate three crops for harvest instead of two during the growing season: corn, wheat, and soy,” Mansfield says.

Looking ahead, Mansfield says he is interested in collecting more data on wheat diseases to help farmers make disease management decisions.

Related Links

Purdue Extension-Posey County

Find wheat trial results in Posey County

Purdue Extension-Spencer County

The Efforts

Purdue Extension in Posey and Spencer counties offices conducts annual winter wheat plot trials  representing 50 varieties and more than a dozen seed companies. These trials help farmers know what to expect in yield, lodging, and disease resistance.

The Impact

In a multi-county survey on the local wheat variety test, a majority of respondents said that yield trials guide their purchasing decisions. They say the unbiased, cross-company results offer them a significant financial benefit.

The Numbers

81-114: Average grain yields in bushels per acre from test plots

66%: Survey respondents indicating use of test plot information

80%: Area crop producers and agribusiness representatives who use one or more test plot trials

The Future

Purdue Extension will continue to provide this research service to wheat farmers in the state’s southwest corner — with an enhanced focus on enhancing statistics on the wheat varieties’ disease resistance.

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