Associate Farm Editor, Reagan Calk, attended the 2022 Oklahoma 4-H/FFA Junior Wheat Show Awards, where the top 25 students from both 4-H and FFA were recognized. Following the awards ceremony, Reagan visited with Mike Schulte with the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and OSU’s Dr. Kim Anderson about the event.
Anderson said the first year he was involved in the state wheat show was in 1983.
“This show was designed to improve wheat quality and to show our youth how wheat varieties and how managing wheat production impacts flour milling quality and how it creates value for the wheat industry,” Anderson said.
The FFA and 4-H students that participate in this program, Anderson said, start in the summer by selecting the variety of wheat and the field they want to plant their wheat in. They plant the wheat in the fall, and he added on at least 5 acres.
“They manage that wheat throughout the growing season, harvest it, and they will pick and clean five pounds of wheat,” Anderson said. “It will be judged by Dr. Brett Carver at Oklahoma State University for production and for visual appearance, then it is milled at Oklahoma State University, baked into bread, and the bread is judged.”
The top 25 4-H entrees and the top 25 FFA entries are all entered into the milling and baking contest. The top five 4-H and FFA participants receive scholarships.
This contest, Anderson, teaches students how to select the wheat varieties that will grow the best and produce the best flour.
“They learn the value of taking a clean product- a milling product to the market,” Anderson said.
Mike Schulte, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, said that each year, over 16,000 dollars in scholarships are awarded to those top five 4-H and top five FFA winners.
Students competing in this contest focus on the agronomic traits of their crop, Schulte said, as well as the traits that millers and bakers will look for within the domestic and international market. Through this project, Schulte said competitors must learn important decision-making skills such as implementing a fertilizer management plan, how they will harvest their wheat crop, and soil management.
“It is really exciting because you see kids, maybe, that grow up on wheat farms that really focus on the agronomic side of things and want to make those management decisions that are going to make them successful if they plan on coming back to the farm, or it at least sparks the idea of maybe they can do this, or they do want to come back to the farm and be in agriculture,” Schulte said.
Schulte said the contest also opens the door for students to consider career options in agriculture on the end-use quality side.
“There is also an economic portion of it,” Schulte said. “They do write reports on their management decisions. That is all factored into the decisions they make, so there are several different areas or opportunities that they can learn experiences from with this competition that show them the possibilities that exist in the world of agriculture.
Although there was not much moisture to work with this year, Schulte said the projects did well.
“We had a large number of varieties from all over the state, so you know, we had students from southwest Oklahoma where maybe the environments were harsher because of severe drought in those regions that did very well and that made it in the top 25 and top 10,” Schulte said.