Hutchinson - Leon Dunn, St. John, won the Kansas State Fair's Market Wheat Show contest with a five-pound sample of the Kansas Wheat Alliance variety, Overley.
Open to all Kansas wheat farmers, the Market Wheat Show honors the highest-quality sample of wheat coming straight from the combine, based on a scoring system that takes into account protein, test weight, dockage, shrunken and broken kernels and mill and bake quality. Of a possible 1,000 points, Leon earned 883 points. For his efforts, Leon Dunn wins $150 and a gold watch. Sponsors of the contest include the Kansas Wheat Commission, Wheat Quality Council, WestBred and American Ag Credit.
Leon Dunn earned top honors in the Kansas State Fair's Market Wheat Show. He was presented a gold watch from Governor Sam Brownback Sept. 15 in Hutchinson. Dunn farms near St. John.
Raising quality wheat is a source of pride for Leon, who farms with his wife, Jan; their son Brian, his wife Carolyn and their family; and daughter, Jennifer Pfortmiller and her husband, Scott. The family sells most of their wheat to the Stafford County Flour Mill, the makers of "Hudson Cream Flour."
"Hudson Cream Flour has a long history for being quality flour," he says. "We're tickled to be able to participate in that circle and give them a product they can depend on, so they can create new products and new markets and know they will have the supply of wheat to fill that void."
In the Dunn's diversified farm operation north of St. John, wheat production is intensively managed to maximize yield and quality. Each crop begins with top-qualitywheat seed, which is cleaned to a high standard and must contain a test weight of at least 60 pounds per bushel and protein above 12. They began using a grain drill with six-inch spacing several years ago and this year, plan to use a four-inch grain drill, shooting for 18 seeds per foot of row.
"We plant our wheat later and thicker. We don't want many tillers. We want one good head, to use fertility and water that's available," Leon says. "We're quite conscious of how we put the seed in the ground; we want good seed to soil contact; we drill very slow."
In the last few years, the Dunns have fine-tuned the applications of several trace elements, including zinc and sulfur. Manganese, he adds, helps wheat cope with glyphosate
build-up in the soil; meanwhile, applications of copper and boron improve the crop quality. The trace elements - plus nitrogen - are applied with the seed at planting time then phosphorous is applied at planting via variable rate. All ground is soil sampled in 2.5 acre grids to ensure that the proper amount of fertilizer is applied where it is necessary. These efforts pay off: Dunn's Market Wheat Show sample featured 17% protein; the entire field averaged about 26 bushels per acre in a severe drought.
Page 2 of 2 - The crop was planted into soybean stubble last fall.
With wheat prices on the rise, Dunn anticipates more Kansas farmers will begin to take more steps to improve yield and quality on their own farms.
"I think, personally, we'll see wheat yields follow corn yields. With major companies getting involved in wheat breeding and technology, we'll see that wheat yields will ratchet up very quickly and I think farmers will adapt to that," he says. "They say the rest of the world needs wheat.I hope we can help supply that need and feed hungry people."