As a Midwestern farm boy, it’s hard for me to think of an honor that could be much greater than having a variety of wheat named after you.
That is, unless it gets horrible yields and is highly susceptible to rust, powdery mildew and wheat streak mosaic. However, according to a tweet from Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin, the particular wheat variety that I am about to identify shouldn't have those unfavorable traits.
Gilipin’s tweet showed a picture of a wheat test plot with a sign that says “Bob Dole” and the tweet read, “SY Bob Dole standing out in his field! Going to be a top #Wheat variety for central corridor. #Yieldandquality.”
The wheat variety carrying the name of the World War II veteran and longtime U.S. senator from Russell, Kansas, was developed by Kansas State University and is being offered for fall planting through AgriPro, thanks to a public-private partnership between Syngenta and Kansas wheat farmers through the Kansas Wheat Commission and Kansas Wheat Alliance.
"Bob Dole is a man of quality character who always looked out for wheat farmers and rural communities,” Greg McCormack, AgriPro key account manager for Syngenta, said in a press release. “We are proud to partner with Kansas Wheat to provide farmers with a new variety that has great yielding potential and features strong quality characteristics, just like its namesake.”
And, according to that same press release, the wheat has a good disease package with leaf and stripe rust tolerance, along with fusarium head blight tolerance, and Kansas and Oklahoma farmers can expect “excellent end-use quality.”
Once the wheat is harvested, we will know more about those claims.
Can this wheat variety endure?
I haven’t been on any test plot tours for several years, but I always found them fascinating. Every year, a new variety seems to be introduced that aims to best deliver good yields despite all the weather and disease risks nature can throw at it.
What is the hot variety one year gradually becomes old hat as better ones are developed. The once top dog varieties like Karl and Jagger now seem anachronistic to more modern varieties of hard red winter wheat.
But if Bob Dole wheat is as tough as the man himself, it will be planted in every field possible.
After all, Bob Dole was badly injured by German machine gun fire, persevered through his injuries and became one of the nation’s premiere statesmen with a congressional career spanning 35 years, and remains a relevant figure at nearly 95 years of age and two decades after retiring from public office.
Who wouldn’t plant a wheat with that type of resilience?