Growing any crop is a risky venture, and there are times when even experienced producers second-guess their decisions. 

That's why UK Grain and Forage Center of Excellence specialists, led by soil extension specialist Edwin Ritchey, created the Wheat Field Schools in 2017 with funding, in part, from the Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association. The schools are a series of in-depth, hands-on trainings targeted toward experienced producers and crop consultants. They occur at vital, decision-making times during the growing season and feature real-time scenarios. 

In the program's first year, participants from across Kentucky, as well as five other states, attended at least one of the schools. Logan County producer Stephanie Halcomb was one of the participants to attend all three. 

“I found the schools to be very valuable learning opportunities,” she said. “It brought the wheat growing season full-circle, from considering varieties and seeding rates in the fall, to fertilizer application in early spring to fungicide application in late spring.” 

It is the goal of Ritchey and other specialists at the center to offer producers more specialized, timely educational opportunities such as these schools and the Emergency Wheat Freeze Damage Training, which was also offered in 2017. 

—Katie Pratt