The 3i Show kicked off in Dodge City today. It’s an annual expo for the agriculture industry.
Seed manufacturers are well-represented at the show this year. In western Kansas, where droughts and diseases are constantly threatening crops, new varieties can make a big difference for farmers.
Hybrids may not be perfect, but they certainly help.
“We have less chance of a total failure,” explained Ron Kershen, research agronomist. “We’ve learned a lot about how to make seeds that are drought and disease resistant.”
Diseases like wheat streak mosaic virus, which devastates wheat.
But many strains of the wheat-rye hybrid triticale are resistant. Triticale is typically a forage crop but is starting to be used to make bread.
“We could only use a small amount of triticale because it’s weak in gluten. Now we have varieties that are stronger in gluten, and we can use up to about half triticale,” said Kershen.
But innovations don’t happen overnight. It usually takes several years to respond to a specific bug or disease.
“That could be all the way from the beginning of inbred production of the hybrid itself, oh I’d say four to six years,” said Hollis Oelmann, NuTech Seed.
But Oelmann says technological advances are cutting down development time.
“You’re probably in a three to four year timeframe in looking for something like that to come out,” said Oelmann.