Kansas Wheat Hall of Fame

The Kansas Wheat Hall of Fame is composed of the State's most popular wheat varieties. These varieties have demonstrated good staying power, having been grown on more than 1 % of the State's acreage at least 20 years. They also have contributed greatly to the Kansas economy and to the farm communities where they were grown. Many of them are still grown today by a few determined producers who are satisfied with specific traits that these wheat varieties display. Not only do they occupy the history books, they occupy the collective imagination of coffee shops in 'country Kansas.' During a poor production year, some producers will always try to find seed of one of the 'old-timers' that they believe would have tolerated the circumstances better than the current varieties. These varieties are being grown today in demonstration strips at the Kansas Wheat Commission and in experiments at Hutchinson, Hays, and Manhattan, Kansas. Results of their performance will be collected and reported on over the next 3 to 5 years.

Turkey

was introduced by Russian Mennonites near Newton, Kansas, in 1874. By 1919, Turkey occupied 98 % of the state's wheat acreage and was the leading variety for an estimated 40 years from 1880 to 1939. Incredibly, Turkey was planted on over 1 % of the State's acreage for 72 years, from 1880-1952. Although hard to find, Turkey is still planted on small acreages today.

Blackhull and Tenmarq

which are not planted in this nursery, were the first varieties to replace Turkey as the leading varieties during the 1940s. Blackhull was the leading variety from 1939 to 1941, and Tenmarq from 1942 to 1944. Along with Turkey, these two were the major varieties planted during the war years.

Pawnee

released in 1945, became the leading variety planted in Kansas in 1949 and continued its reign for 7 years. Pawnee was the first real departure in plant type from the earlier varieties, being noticeably earlier in maturity. This trait was readily accepted by Kansas farmers, because Pawnee's early maturity allowed it to escape the hot, dry conditions that are common in Kansas from mid to late June when wheat ripens. Pawnee was grown on over 1 % of the state's acreage for 23 years.

Wichita

replaced Pawnee in 1955 as the state's most popular variety. Of the 'old-timers' discussed around the coffee shops in western Kansas, Wichita probably still remains the anecdotal favorite. Wichita was the leading variety planted from 1955-1959. Wichita probably would have remained popular longer had it not been for an undesirable trait, shattering, which left 4-5 bushels per acre on the ground instead of in the combine. Wichita was grown on at least 1 % of the acreage for 30 years.

Bison

replaced Wichita as the leading variety for 2 years, 1960 and 1961. Bison was not a popular variety very long, although it was grown on over 1 % of the acreage for 18 years, from 1958 to 1976. Bison also is worth mentioning because it was the first wheat variety that not only was readily accepted by wheat producers, but also by the milling and baking community. Bison had much stronger dough mixing properties than either Pawnee or Wichita, which at the time was a much needed improvement for the baking industry.

Triumph

released during the same time as Pawnee and Wichita, grew slowly but steadily in popularity. Triumph-type wheats became the leading variety in 1962 and predominated until 1967. However, more noteworthy is the fact that Triumph was grown on over 1 % of the State's acreage for 44 years, from 1947 to 1991. No variety has enjoyed a longer run of acceptance by Kansas farmers with the exception of Turkey. Triumph was noted for its early maturity and tolerance to hot, dry winds during grain filling.

Scout and Scout 66

finally replaced Triumph in 1968 and remained the state's most popular variety until 1977. The Scout-type wheats were a notable improvement for western Kansas, having improved winterhardiness and drought tolerance that made them ideally suited for the High Plains. Scout and Scout 66 were planted on over 50 % of the acreage from 1970-73, the highest any single variety has occupied since Turkey. Any current or new variety that would occupy such a large acreage in the future would be a surprise. Scout 66 still is planted on over 1 % of the state's acreage and has been since 1968, 30 years and counting.

Eagle

Like Bison, Eagle was only grown as the leading variety for 2 years, 1978-79. Eagle is a selection from Scout, but and has been grown continuouly on over 1 % of the state's acreage for 24 years. Also like Bison, Eagle is known for its outstanding quality. Eagle was the second wheat variety grown in Kansas that was noted not only for yield, but also outstanding quality.

Newton

Newton wheat introduced a new era in wheat production and appearance. Newton was not the first semidwarf variety released that was adapted to the Great Plains, but it certainly became the most popular. Newton was the leading variety for 7 years, from 1979 to 1986. In 1982, Newton was planted on 41 % of the state's acreage, the most since Scout 66 in the early 1970s. Newton holds the record for acceptance by a wheat variety, moving from roughly 3 % of the acreage the year after it was released to 18 % the following year, an increase of 15 % . In demonstration plots, Newton still catches growers eyes with its large spike and attractive foliage.

Arkan

Arkan replaced Newton as the leading variety in 1987 and was the most popular variety for 3 years until 1989. Arkan was the first wheat variety grown extensively in central and eastern Kansas, because of its superior disease resistance.

Tam 107

Tam 107 became the leading variety in 1989 and remained so for 3 years, until 1992. Tam 107 is strictly a western Kansas variety and still occupies as much as 50 % of the acreage in some western Kansas counties. Tam 107 has developed a reputation for toughness, having good tolerance to drought and wheat streak mosaic virus.

Karl and Karl 92

Karl became the state's leading variety in 1992 and remains the most popular variety. Noted for early maturity and good disease resistance, Karl became popular in central and eastern Kansas, but was never able to take much acreage away from Tam 107 in western Kansas. The two varieties ranked 1st and 2nd during the 1990's, Karl in central and eastern Kansas and Tam 107 out west. Karl also is noted for its excellent milling and baking qualities. Along with Bison and Eagle, Karl is only the third wheat in Kansas that was both the leading variety, and the most widely recognized by the milling and baking industry for good milling and baking quality.

Will Newton, Arkan, Tam 107, or Karl be grown on 1 % of the acres for 20 years? Only time will tell. Newton has slowly moved west, but still occupies 1.3 % of the acreage after 16 years. Arkan's chance for the Hall of Fame has already passed, the variety reached an estimated 18 % of the acreage in 1987, but dropped off quickly since 1991. It is too early to tell for Tam 107 and Karl, but to remain on at least 1 % of the acres for 20 years is a great testimony to a wheat variety's strengths.

Ike, Jagger, and 2137 are the newest wheat varieties released by Kansas State University. Will they occupy the title of the state's leading variety or will another wheat deserve the honor. Luck and circumstance play a part in the acceptance of a variety by Kansas farmers. Not only is it important to have good performance, but a wheat variety's strengths often have to match the greatest stresses provided by the Kansas environment any given year. The wheat varieties that emerge as the most dominant in acreage not only have good performance but also have tolerated Kansas conditions the best.

In the future, it probably will be harder than ever to become a member of the Kansas Wheat Hall of Fame. There are more wheat varieties for farmers to choose from, farmers are more willing and able to switch varieties with better planting equipment, and farming is becoming so efficient that many producers can not afford to give a variety a 'second chance' if it fails to perform on their farm. The varieties that you see before you have stood the test of time. They represent the very best of wheat varieties ever grown in the Wheat State. These varieties can truly say that during their time, they were 'resistant to Kansas'.


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Kansas State University | Wheat Genetics Resource Center
25 April, 1997.