BUSHLAND — This year’s Panhandle Ag Day will serve up a number of important messages for producers and scientists alike, say organizers of the field day event scheduled Thursday (May 22) at the Bushland Experiment Station, three-quarters of a mile west of town on the I-40 access road.
“It’s been a roller coaster year for Panhandle producers,” said Dr. Nolan Clark, laboratory director at the USDA-ARS Southern Plains Conservation and Production Agricultural Research Laboratory. His facility co-sponsors the event with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas Agricultural Extension Service, and West Texas A&M University. This year’s program has been planned in concert with the Panhandle Agriculture Advisory Council, area agriculturalists who serve as advisers to all four institutions.
Dr. John Sweeten, Experiment Station research director at Amarillo, agreed with Clark. “It’s been a wild past few months, that’s certain,” he said.
“Our people have been out whenever they’re needed to assess area crops, talking to producers, ag lenders especially this year, or attempting predictions based their individual expertise and conditions farmers are facing,” added Bob Robinson, Extension Service district director.
All three directors say speakers will reflect on the year’s late-season climatic surprises — heavy snowfall, hard freezes, and spring flooding. Other issues on insect and disease outbreaks will be addressed.
Then the focus will shift to better news. Warmer temperatures and abundant moisture have turned area wheat fields emerald green. More of the crop than first thought may yet be harvested. The unexpected moisture has brought annual precipitation totals to well above normal in most areas, meaning less irrigation for some producers.
The event’s registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with refreshments and a welcome by the research directors. At 9 a.m., producers will accompany the scientists into the field for tours of research demonstrations.
Much of the work will show ongoing studies designed to aid producers directly. The first stop on the tour will feature Drs. Mark Lazar and Steve Winter, both A&M agronomists. Lazar is a wheat breeder who will discuss dryland wheat and drought resistance. Winter will address wheat grazing.
A second stop with Dr. Brent Bean, Extension agronomist, and Dr. David Worrall, wheat breeder at the Vernon Experiment Station, will showcase Bean’s trials with irrigated wheat varieties and phosphorous fertility, followed by Worrall’s work with breeding nurseries.
USDA-ARS scientists Drs.Terry Howell and Arland Schneider will cover tillage and sprinkler irrigation, including presentations on planting date scheduling, irrigation rates and timing. Dr. Paul Unger, also with USDA, will feature his work with alternative cropping systems, including canola variety trials and a long-term no- till study.
Conservation benches, planting opportunities and animal waste fertilizers are topics for Reggie Jones and Dr, Thanh Dao, also with ARS, at the fifth tour stop. A final stop before lunch will showcase work by Experiment Station entomologist Dr. Jerry Michels, who will address greenbug resistence. Gary Peterson, Experiment Station agronomist, will present findings from a Russian wheat aphid study.
The noon lunch is sponsored by the Texas Wheat Producers Board and Producers Association. The program resumes at 12:30 p.m. with a tribute marking the 50tth year of research conducted by Dr. Kenneth Porter, longtime Experiment Station wheat breeder of Amarillo. Porter is credited as a major developer for many of the hard, red winter wheats grown today across the Great Plains.
A financial and economic outlook will feature B. A. Donaldson, president, First State Bank of Stratford, and Dr. Steve Amosson, Extension farm management economist of Amarillo.
A final segment will highlight adoption of innovative farming practices. Grower Ray Ogelsby of Dumas will discuss air wheat seeding. Stinnett producer Karl Johnson will address use of PET Network data. Other topics will include genetically enhanced Bt corn and the Conservation Reserve Program.
The program will end by 2 p.m.