Friday, May 30, 2008

Field Days

On Thursday the 22nd, Dad, Chris, and I drove up to (almost) Manhattan for the AgriPro VIP Field Day and for a tour of the KSU wheat breeding nursery and a meeting about the new organization "Wildcat Genetics" which will be responsible for licensing KSU wheats in the future.

It is required at any field day to ride around on a trailer. Here we are at the Ashland research farm:

And here is the variety demonstration plot at the AgriPro research farm:

The best part of the whole day was AgriPro's double haploid lab. Here they use Syngenta's proprietary technique to essentially clone wheat plants. Apparently, you can fertilize a wheat flower with corn pollen and create a baby wheat germ that has only one set of chromosomes (in triplicate) thus a haploid. The little germ has no endosperm (see normal wheat kernel at left.) This baby wheat germ has to be grown in a test tube on an agar jelly since it has no natural nutrient source (normally the endosperm.) Before the wheat plant can mature and create new, normal seeds, the genetic material must be doubled to have two sets of chromosomes (each set in triplicate.) I went on this tour a couple of years ago and She (I feel terrible but I can not for the life of me remember her name) would not tell us anything at all about how they double the ploidy. This time she did say that they use a chemical, and told us the chemical's name, but wouldn't say when in the growth cycle they did it. Anyhoo the process cuts the time needed to develop a new variety of wheat in half. This translates to 5+ years time savings. I should also point out that this is NOT considered "genetic engineering" and has been in use in Europe for 20+ years.

Here is the double haploid lab's greenhouse. Mature wheat towards the back, younger wheat towards the front, and corn on the left.

On Tuesday the 27th we braved the bitter cold to attend the K-State Research and Extension Southwest Kansas Fall crops field day. It used to be the wheat tour, but they are starting to have some luck with their canola studies so they talked quite a bit about canola too. Canola is a crop that would be fun to try, and every year I think about it more. It helps that I went to K-State with Mike the canola breeder. Probably a few years away yet, though. I'm not much into being a pioneer I guess. Here we are looking at some canola:

Pop Quiz, no cheating.
Where does the word canola come from and why?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Desperate Times Part Six

See Part 5

Starting to head out--better late than never. All and all it really looks good. It might even end up being tall enough to harvest...Looking East.

Looking West.

You can see that the fall seeded wheat IS a little ahead of the February seeded wheat.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Spraying Fun.

This is my new "Mix 'n Fill" tank I put on the nurse trailer. I can't reach the tank of the new sprayer with the hose from the far side chemical tank. With this I can put the chemical in, and then it goes into the sprayer with the water. It is a lot easier, and really speeds up the mixing process.

Here I am spraying the ditch over at the Gray Havens. It has a lot of joint grass in it, which we will discuss further next week.

I should not be snapping this picture. I should be seeing what is wrong with this picture. What could it be?

Dad doesn't have the ladder! It is still leaning on the tractor.

It pretty much always rains whenever I spray anything in the Far East. This time I got 0.25".

Ooh, I forgot about one of my favorite new sprayer features. This one has triple nozzle bodies. That makes it super simple to change the rate that I am spraying. Like here I just shut off every other nozzle to go from 10 GPA to 5 GPA. (I am still not sure that this is such a hot idea, I don't know that I am getting good enough coverage with 30" spacing. But it is worth a shot to find out, since blanks are way cheaper than nozzles.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Birthday Fun.

Helping Grammy in the garden.

The awesome giraffe cake that Abby made.

Singing, and...


In Which lobiwan Contributes to the Ever Growing Amount of Smut on the 'Net

Here is a look at some dryland wheat on the 19th. As you can see, it is pretty ragged. The nice thing about the wheat looking so terrible all winter, though is that it does manage to look better with each passing week.
There is a fair amount of this present this year, which is Loose Smut. Loose Smut is a seed borne disease that is easily prevented by planting treated seed. Most wheat seed, though, is not treated, for various reasons. It is fairly expensive relative to the cost of seed, and most wheat seed dealers (us included) either don't have their own treaters or don't like messing (literally) with treatments. Also, most wheat seed in this area is handled in bulk, using trucks that are also used to deliver grain to the elevator. Most farmers don't want treated seed anywhere near their trucks for fear that they will forget to clean the truck thoroughly and have an entire load of grain turned away at the elevator. This makes it hard to justify the expense of owning a treater, since no one wants it anyway. We plant treated seed for our Seed production if possible, but this wheat is all for grain so was not treated.

These days they will give anyone a commercial applicator's license, as you can see here. You might want to raise that boom up, Chris.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Graduation Weekend II Part IV: Sunday

We stayed at the Grand Prairie Hotel in Hutchinson. Betsy had stayed there before for a conference. Here are her instructions on how to find it: "Um, I think it was close to the mall, because I didn't have trouble getting to the mall and it is a Best Western I'm pretty sure and it has a name like "The Big Ol' Cowboy" or something." One out of three isn't too bad right? It is close to the mall.

Anyhoo, the reason why you want to stay at the Grand Prairie is that they have a water park inside, and it is fun. They have a kiddie pool with slides, a pool with basketball goals, a climb-over-the-water-via-a-rope-ladder-and-unstable-floatie-thingys-thing, a lazy river, and two big ol' water slides. We got up nice and early to go swimming, and had a great time.

Anna's favorite was the kiddie pool with the little slides. She also rode with us on the big slides, which she also liked, despite holding her hands over her eyes the whole time.

Here we are at the moon. Also conveniently located at the Grand Prairie Hotel.

After lunch we returned to the Cosmosphere so we could see the museum. We also watched possibly the worst imax film ever about the Grand Canyon. Luckily we didn't have to pay for Anna, as she was still a two year old.

Here, Betsy and Anna pose in front of the "Black Betsy" rocket engine, the engine that broke the sound barrier . I never realized what big aviation buffs Betsy's parents are. Honestly-who names their daughter after a Rocket engine?

Here Anna tries out the ejection seat of a B-29 bomber

Here is Anna towards the end of the museum. Notice the leash. Fun fun fun. If you haven't been to the Cosmosphere since you were 12, like myself, you should definitely go again. It is so much larger and has so much stuff in it now. It is very impressive.

On the trip home, with Anna and Betsy sleeping, I stopped at the Santa Fe Trail tracks between Dodge and Cimarron. I wanted to see how they compared to my own private Santa Fe Trail track (On hard ground they traveled four abreast, creating tracks, whereas on sandier ground they traveled single file, creating track.) I think mine is just as impressive even without the (very nice) handicap accessible path. I'm guessing it got struck by lightning?

Changing water.

Back in the days of pipe irrigation, changing water was a daily or twice daily chore. It was very hands on, turning on and off individual gates, rerouting water with a spade or attaching "socks" to the pipe. Today the closest I can get to even using the term "changing water" is when I have to switch which sprinkler is running over east. It does not take long and can hardly be considered work.
Loading up the 4-wheeler

Driving by the Zimmatic.

Opening the valve on the Reinke.

Leaving the corn field.

Heading into the wheat.

Closing the valve on the Zimmatic

Checking the Reinke for flow and proper movement.

Fine tuning the pressure with the engine throttle (below.)

Ready to go home.