Your premier wheat, triticale and rye seed dealer in western Kansas

Ehmke Seed is a family-owned seed company with a long history on the High Plains. Our farm goes back to the pioneer days in 1885 when the Ehmkes emigrated from Germany in search of a brighter future in Lane County, Kansas.

Four generations later in 1986, Vance Ehmke and his wife Louise saw an opportunity to grow their own certified seed wheat for themselves and local farmers. Wanting to try something different, Vance and Louise experimented with growing triticale seed and found it was a huge success with cattlemen and dairies across the High Plains. Now in the fifth generation, the tradition continues.

Ehmke Seed has grown to be one of the premier wheat, triticale and rye seed dealers in western Kansas. The focus at Ehmke Seed continues to be bringing high-quality seed and years of knowledge and expertise to our customers. That’s why nearly all of our seed is grown and sold right here on the Ehmke farm in west-central Kansas. Ehmke Seed grows top-performing wheat varieties for the central and southern plains, as well as world-class triticale and rye varieties for forage growers looking to get more out of their livestock investment.

  • Popular Wheat Varieties May Not Be Top Yielders

    By Vance Ehmke

    In looking at the recently released list of the most popular wheat varieties planted in Kansas, I am reminded that just because a variety is planted on a lot of acres doesn’t mean you should be planting it.

    Years ago in a conversation with former Scott City basketball coach and farmer/cattleman Harold Burnett, he pointed out that to hit a running rabbit, you’ve got to lead it.  And if farmers are using the list of most popular varieties as a source of what they ought to be planting, they are shooting at where the rabbit was, rather than where he’s going to be.

    In brief, it takes time for a variety to grow in popularity as well as in acreage.  But during that time, other new and better varieties have been released. And as rapidly as wheat breeding programs are moving these days thanks to improvements in breeding technology, I’m saying the life of a new wheat variety today is no longer than 2 or 3 years.

    A real good case in point is the AgriPro variety Monument. It’s the most popular variety in Kansas and has been the top-planted variety since 2019. But should you be planting it? I don’t think I would. If I wanted to plant an AgriPro variety, after looking at the K-State variety trial data for central Kansas, I think I’d go with the K-State/AgriPro release Bob Dole. In the 2021 trials, Monument had a central Kansas average yield of 72 while Bob Dole averaged over 80 bushels per acre. This is what they call yield drag. This is the price you pay for not keeping current on the varieties you are planting.

    Here’s another good example. Again in central Kansas, the K-State variety Zenda is pretty popular. But in the 2021 K-State variety trials, it yielded just short of 72 bushels per acre. On the other hand, the newer Larry variety had an average yield of just under 80 bushels per acre. Do you want to be popular or do you want to make money?

    Out here in western Kansas, the Colorado State University variety Langin shows up as a popular wheat. But in looking at newer releases like the Plains Gold Canvas, is it time to switch varieties? You be the judge. In the southwest Kansas irrigated and dryland trials, Canvas was in the top yield group 4 out of 4  times while Langin was in none. What’s more is that Canvas is resistant to wheat streak mosaic while Langin is moderately susceptible. I also like Canvas because it is very good to excellent on drought stress and has excellent straw strength—and beats Langin in both categories.

    Let’s say you farm in Greeley County KS and you’re not planting KS Dallas because it’s not popular enough—yet. I guess the polite way to say this is just think of all the Federal and State income taxes you’re not having to pay because you’re not growing this variety. In the K-State variety trials, KS Dallas yields topped that entire location in 2021 and the variety was again in the top yield group the previous year.

    Of course, it’s always better if you can look at data from more than just one year. And since we’re now only about 6 weeks from harvest, we’ll soon have an entirely new set of yield data to look at. Shortly after harvest, you’ll be able to find those data on the internet by going to K-State’s 2022 Wheat Crop Performance Trials. Or they’ll also be published in The Wheat Farmer/Row Crop Farmer Wheat Variety book that comes out in the summer. Do you want to shoot at where the rabbit was….or where he’ll be?

    read more
    marit34Popular Wheat Varieties May Not Be Top Yielders
  • Does $10 Wheat Mean More Acres?

    By Vance Ehmke

    After several years of selling wheat for $5 a bushel, we finally broke out of the rut when wheat prices exploded and more than doubled. But even with $10 wheat, if you’re betting on a big jump in the Kansas wheat acreage, it’s a bet you’re probably going to lose.

    If anything, I hope the Kansas wheat acreage can hold onto the small gains it has made in the past year or so. But what’s going on nationally with wheat is a concern. In USDA’s prospective planting estimates for 2022, the “all wheat” acreage is pegged at 47.4 million acres—and that’ll be the fifth lowest wheat acreage since records were started in 1919.

    Back several years ago, the Kansas wheat acreage had slipped to the smallest acreage planted in over 100 and 110 years. This probably happened because we farmers could make more money doing other things—like planting grain sorghum and corn. And if you look at the current K-State crop production budgets for 2022, that’s still the case—even with much higher wheat prices.

    The problem is that corn and milo prices have also gone up. We’re not just short of wheat. We’re short of everything. And the markets reflect it.

    Looking at the K-State budgets before the markets really took off, dryland wheat in southwest Kansas with a yield of 45 bushels per acre netted $21/acre. In a wheat-sorghum fallow rotation, wheat netted $14. Dryland milo with a yield of 81 bushels per acre netted $101/acre while dryland southwest Kansas corn with a yield of 82 netted $74. In the profitability race, wheat finishes last.

    So, in this scenario, why would you plant more wheat? For that matter, why would you plant corn over milo? That’s another thing that is quite perplexing—especially for those of us in drought-prone  southwest Kansas. According to USDA’s 2022 prospective planting estimates, the sorghum acreage is projected to drop 15%. What am I missing?

    Then after the markets really took off and wheat went from $7.67 to $10/bushel, wheat profitability jumped from $21 to $139/acre. Wow! But what happened to the profitability or milo and corn? Assuming a constant production cost and with a more current milo price of $7.44, milo profitability jumped from $101 to $263/acre. Corn net jumped from $74/acre to $262/acre.

    So even with $10 wheat, we wind up in the same place: It is very difficult to make a case for growing more wheat.

    The trap, however, is looking at these crops individually rather than as in a rotation. Based on work at K-State’s Tribune Experiment Station, growing continuous milo doesn’t work very well. When you go from a no-till wheat/sorghum/fallow rotation to a wheat/sorghum/sorghum rotation, yields of the second sorghum crop drop over 40% while incidence of crop failure goes through the roof.

    Research at KSU’s Colby Experiment Station says the same thing. On an annualized profit basis, the most profitable rotation in western Kansas is the wheat/sorghum/fallow rotation. Actually, in this study, the old fashioned wheat/fallow/wheat rotation faired quite well and finished just behind the three-year rotation. All annual rotations were under water.

    Critics of the Colby study say, “Well, there were some dry years in the study which reduced yield of the summer row crops.” And to that I say, “Have you taken a look at the forecast for April, May and June—not only drier than normal, but much hotter than normal?  I don’t think Mother Nature is going to let us forget what dry weather looks like.

    It would help, however, if we could beef up the profitability of growing wheat. And we are moving in that direction. The new wheat gluten plants for Kansas will definitely increase demand for the crop. Plus, K-State wheat breeder Allan Fritz is working to increase the value of the crop by developing winter durum wheat varieties that may produce lower yields but much higher prices.

    Another thing I’m really excited about are KSU efforts to develop high protein varieties that will allow us growers to capture high protein premiums. And I’m not talking about just high protein contents—I’m talking about off-the-charts protein contents. Allen tells me he’s working with varieties that produce protein values of 20%–and even higher!

    So don’t count wheat out. We may never grow 10 million acres of wheat in Kansas again. But neither is the crop ever going to go away!

    read more
    marit34Does $10 Wheat Mean More Acres?
  • There’s Nitrogen in Them Thar Hills!

    If you haven’t noticed, the price of fertilizer over the past several months has more than doubled. And if there ever were a time for doing an extensive job of soil sampling, it is now.

    What’s more is that if your soil test results are anything like ours, you might just have a very pleasant surprise waiting for you.

    read more
    Jerry GThere’s Nitrogen in Them Thar Hills!

Please, ask us anything!

we are here to help

Adapt or die.

-Earl Butz, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

Jerry GWelcome!