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Update from Michigan Wheat Program

Continuation ballots sent

It does not seem possible, but it is already time for the first continuation referendum for the Michigan Wheat Program.  Since the Michigan Wheat Program is a check-off, it goes back to a vote of growers every 5 years so growers can vote on whether or not to continue the program for 5 more years. For the program to continue through September of 2021, the majority of wheat growers voting and the majority of production voted must be in favor of continuing the program.

The Michigan Wheat Program continuation referendum is administered by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, so please contact them if you have questions or have not received a ballot. Contact Deb Merrill directly at MDARD at 517-284-5730, toll free at 800-292-3939 or email at

As you complete your ballot, make sure you read the balloting instructions carefully, include your production information, sign your ballot and have it postmarked on or before January 22 to ensure your vote will count.

If you have a question about the Michigan Wheat Program contact Executive Director, Jody Pollok-Newsom at 1-888-WHEAT01 (943-2801).

MWP Annual Report

The third annual report published by the Michigan Wheat Program is now winging its way toward wheat growers statewide. The Strategy for Winning with Wheat, the 2014-15 Annual Report of the Michigan Wheat Program is the check-off program’s report back to growers about the many accomplishments, research projects and partnerships formed since 2011, when farmers voted to establish the program.

The 2014-2015 Annual Report focuses on the past year and provides:

• brief descriptions of 19 research projects,

• the program budget break-out;

• overviews of key marketing programs;

• work done with the Risk Management Agency to change crop insurance coverage of falling numbers for 2016 and beyond;

• and education and communication initiatives including the summer field day and winter grower meeting.

The new report, as well as the two previous annual reports, are on the website at

2016 Winter Grower Meeting

The Michigan Wheat Program’s annual Winter Grower Meeting is set for Wednesday, March 9, from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Eagle Eye Banquet Center, 15500 Chandler Rd., in Bath Township. The day-long program will have strong emphasis on high-management production practices including the benefits of adding wheat to a rotation.

Keynote presenter Dr. Dave Hooker, a field crop agronomist and assistant professor from the University of Guelph, will talk about the importance of high-management wheat, and the yield increase he sees when adding wheat to a crop rotation.

Over the last decade, Hooker’s research has brought together genetics, soil fertility and pest management in ways that improve crop production.  He has a particular interest in looking at an entire cropping system and has collaborated extensively with the Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and growers of wheat, soybeans and corn in Canada. Given climate similarities between Ontario and Michigan, Hooker’s practices and tips should be helpful to Michigan wheat farmers.

Hooker’s research includes nitrogen management, crop rotation and interactions between crop inputs.  He is also noted for developing the DONcast tool for predicting DON formation in wheat.  DONcast has been commercially deployed in Uruguay and Europe.

Other scheduled presentations at the winter meeting include:

• RMA crop insurance adjustment for falling numbers for 2016;

• Overview of the results of the wheat market evaluation study;

• Michigan Wheat Program progress to date;

• Results of the Michigan Wheat Program continuation referendum;

• Resources for growers by Martin Nagelkirk; and

• Dennis Pennington, the recently-hired MSU wheat specialist will present and ask growers about their future research needs.

There is no cost to attend the Winter Grower Meeting, but advance registration is required to ensure the lunch count, adequate seating and handouts. Last year more than 300 attended, so be sure to register early at under “What’s Hot.”  Or register via phone by calling:  888-WHEAT01 (888-943-2801).

Economic study to be released

Another highlight of the Winter Meeting will be the release of the results of the MSU Product Center’s study of the Michigan Wheat Industry.

The study made possible by a $76,672 grant received by the Michigan Wheat Program will provide baseline data for the wheat industry. The report will include details on current wheat production, current and potential milling capacity, preferred wheat varieties in various end-user sectors, and potential markets for the future.

The report will be presented by MWP Executive Director Jody Pollok-Newsom and Bill Knudson of the Center.