Editor’s Note: Chris Cullan is a wheat farmer in Box Butte County. His family recently hosted their 26th annual customer appreciation day on their farm.

Raising a crop is a great way to experience joy, failure, success and learning opportunities all at once. Sometimes all in one day.  Fortunately, we have a great research partner in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Research is often needed due to “real life” problems, but real life problems are not easy to mask in a research environment, hence the need for locations like our farm.  We recently had a significant saw fly problem in some fields. Dr. Jeffery Bradshaw, Nebraska research and extension entomologist, and his assistants Susan Harvey and Rick Patrick were quick to come out and put their research into action.

My late grandfather started hosting the nursery and plot tour for Dr. Stephen Baenziger’s work on wheat variety development some 25-30 years ago. To our farm, and to our seed customer’s farm, this provides a real world, unbiased plot to help us make a decision as to what variety will do well in our area.  It also provides the ability for all to view the plots as they progress through the growing season, and choose varieties to help us have the most successful crop.

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Our most recent partnership is with Dr. Cody Creech who has been working on a plant date and rate study that he spoke about at the field day this past June.  Given the interest and drama surrounded by widespread wheat streak virus this year, it was a great study that you could really see the impact on the plant dates that he used in this plot. 

Dr. Stephen Wegulo, a wheat plant pathologist from Lincoln, has toured our fields and these plots looking for diseases in wheat, and unfortunately, he has been overjoyed to find several infestations.  We have a standing joke with the pathologists and entomologists when we see them “light up like a Christmas tree” in our field, it simply makes their day, but in the end it is bad for me!  But then again, the real life problems associated with production are found, and this again helps us make better, educated decisions that improve our bottom line.  When you take this into consideration, and total the acres managed by the producers that are able to view these results, the value to the public is huge.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of hosting on-farm research is working with the people.  Dr. Baenziger has been here the longest. He has brought all walks of life and many from different countries to these fields to work and learn.  To have the privilege of viewing, and playing such a small role in that is priceless.  Many come from urban environments and when they come to the open skies of our little corner of the world that we call paradise, their unbridled enthusiasm to work, learn and enjoy the experience is something you cannot put a value on.  In regard to working with others, the relationships that Dr. Bradshaw, Dr. Wegulo, Dr. Creech, and many from the past such as Dr. Lyon, Dr. Hergert, and Dr. Baltensperger have developed with farmers through on farm extension are priceless.  It does not get more real than that.

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