December 8, 2020

In This Edition: In our December newsletter, the Michigan Wheat Program traditionally highlights some of the consumer outreach and – this year particularly – charitable activities that involve Michigan wheat producers.

Michigan Wheat Program helps Michigan Pork Producers provide dinner for the needy at City Rescue Mission of Lansing

In celebration of October being National Pork Month, Michigan Pork Producers Association (MPPA) partnered with the Michigan Wheat Program and other Michigan ag commodity organizations to provide dinner for those in need at the City Rescue Mission of Lansing in late October.

The delicious aroma of grilling pork loin filled the streets of downtown Lansing as the pork association staff grilled dinner from the National Pork We CareSM trailer on Michigan Avenue, just five blocks east of the State Capitol.

MPPA staff also had the opportunity to serve dinner at the men’s shelter, distributing nearly 100 meals there. Another 50 meals were also delivered to the Mission’s nearby women’s shelter.

Men, women and children were served pork loin sandwiches which were donated by MPPA, on buns provided by the Michigan Wheat Program.  Potato chips, apples, milk and salads were donated by the Michigan Potato Industry Commission, Michigan Apple Committee and United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

National Pork Month is observed in October because it marked the time of year when hogs were traditionally harvested. Today, it serves as a time to celebrate and thank pig farmers and to share Michigan commodity stories with consumers.


Interested in getting involved?
Michigan Craft Beverage Council begins talking with Michigan Wheat Program to engage farmers

Jody Pollok-Newsom, Michigan Wheat Program executive director, and Dennis Pennington, MSU wheat specialist, have begun conversations with representatives from the Michigan Craft Beverage Council. There is a lot of interest from craft brewers and distillers regarding wheat and its availability as it’s a valued component in their industry.
As the Brewing Council gets underway, there is much interest in utilizing wheat grown in the Great Lakes State and making a connection between the grower and the brewer/distiller. The goal would be to utilize that Pure Michigan connection in marketing and promoting the industry along with farmers who grow the wheat.
One of the early questions has been what are the best traits of a good wheat milling or distilling variety. Pennington has begun researching the most desirable traits for brewers and which environmental or production practices affect those.
As is customary, three years of data are needed to begin to get answers, and only year-one has been completed. With the project in its infancy, more ideas and energy for this booming industry are needed.
At this point, next steps will be for the craft brewers to identify their needs and then work with the Michigan Wheat Program and Pennington on the best production practices and varieties for the brewing industry.
If you’re a wheat grower wanting to get involved in this project, contact Pollok-Newsom at

Michigan Wheat Program announces 2020-2021 funded research line-up

COVID made the Michigan Wheat Program research board meeting a bit challenging this year, but in spite of sitting 6 to 8 feet apart in a nearly-vacant hotel, wearing face masks and eating box breakfast/lunch/and dinner, the research meeting was held in August and important funding decisions were made.

Fifteen researchers rotated in and out of the meeting to make presentations to the board on their current projects and/or seeking additional funds for continuation projects or new research pursuits.

Some projects had been stalled due to the pandemic and MSU’s closing down labs and other campus facilities. The University remains closed.

Other projects continued with special permits and requests that were granted as the field work was deemed essential and could not be postponed as lab samples can be.

Seven new projects and six continuation projects were funded for 2021. Some 2020 projects were extended, given the COVID shut-down. The types of projects funded included cover crop management, weed management, nutrient management, disease management, diagnostics of wheat samples, new wheat variety development, high management of variety trials, developing a grower network, evaluation of possible nematodes in wheat, precision planting, winter hardiness and straw in swine diets.

It is a relief to be pushing ahead with the expectation that field research will continue this spring on all of the wheat plots researchers were able to get planted last fall.

Jerry Minore wheat scholarship apps due Dec. 31!

The application period will be closing shortly the Jerry Minore Scholarship, available to students pursuing careers in agriculture.  The scholarship is offered through the National Wheat Foundation, in memory of Jerry Minore, and is available to both high school and college students for the 2020-2021 academic year.
“The scholarship is meant to aid those students who have shown a passion for agriculture both inside and outside the classroom,” said David Cleavinger, Chairman of the National Wheat Foundation. “These students can then educate the next generation on the importance of wheat and agriculture and the significant role both play in society.”
The late Jerry Minore was a BASF Senior Market Manager and a liaison to the wheat industry. Since his unexpected death in 2012, BASF has partnered with the National Wheat Foundation to fund scholarships and honor his advocacy efforts for wheat growers. This year the Foundation will be issuing two scholarships for $2,500 each.
Click here for more information on how to apply for the Jerry Minore Scholarship.  Applications must be received by December 31, 2020, to be considered.

Thumb Ag Day to hold online education program with two wheat sessions Dec. 9; re-schedules in-person to Dec. 2021

Another program bites the COVID dust in 2020. Partially, anyway.
The popular, long-running Thumb Ag Day event has pivoted to another format due to the pandemic. The virtual education program takes place from 8:30-11 am this Wednesday, December 9. Two wheat programs are on the agenda: 
  • Variety Selection in Wheat – Managing New Variety White Tail – Dennis Pennington, MSU wheat specialist
  • Income Tax Management in Higher Income Years – Dr. Corey Clark, MSU Extension farm management educator
  • Commodity Market Outlook – Dr. Matt Gammans, MSU ag and environmental economics specialist
  • Preventing and Correcting Soil Compaction – Dr. Tim Harrigan, MSU precision ag specialist
  • Soybeans and Fungicide Use – Phil Kaatz, MSU Extension field crops educator
  • Nitrogen in Wheat – Bob Battel, MSU Extension field crops educator
3 RUP and 2 CCA credits for IPM and nutrient management are available. Direct questions to Phil Kaatz at 810.667-0341 or  Or to Bob Battel at 989.315.4221 or

Click here to register for this free event. 

Michigan farmers make global difference

Farmers across Michigan are making a difference around the world by doing what they do best – farming! To date Michigan farmers and their communities have raised over $8 million to address world hunger in partnership with Growing Hope Globally.

Growing Hope Globally provides a unique Growing Project model to allow farmers to respond to global hunger from their own communities.
In the Growing Project, farmers, agribusinesses, churches and others come together around the common cause of hunger. The whole community has the opportunity to get involved.

Farmers grow crops while businesses, churches and individuals cover the input and land costs so that, when sold, the entire profit can be used to support the Growing Hope program(s) of your choice. With each one doing their part, the impact is multiplied beyond what any individual could do on their own!

Jim Elwell of Climax, Michigan, said, “I support Growing Hope because it is so much more fulfilling than putting a check in the mail. Farming is my passion and I love sharing it with other people around the world, even if they are farming with a shovel and a hoe instead of a planter and a tractor. It is a unique way of helping people help themselves.”
There are more than 690 million people around the world suffering from hunger, and is expected to rise by the end of this year. COVID has brought unprecedented challenges to vulnerable communities across the country and around the world.

But there is hope. “We are hearing from our parters around the world that the communities we work with are faring much better than their neighbors, thanks to the training they have received. They are using sustainable practices to grow more than enough food to meet their needs,” said Rachel Conley of Growing Hope Globally. “Now their neighbors want to learn the same methods so their families can benefit too."

People everywhere want the dignity of providing for themselves. Over the last 20 years, Growing Hope Globally has funded agricultural development programs in more than 25 countries that empower communities to improve their farming practices, nutrition, hygiene, and access to water, seeds, land, and more. Building skills and empowering communities leads to positive change for a lifetime.

To learn more or get involved, click here to visit or contact Rachel Conley at   Click here for the Growing Hope website.

Mich wheat + Mich sugar = winner
"Show Me Your #MISugarCookie Campaign!"

The Michigan GROWN, Michigan GREAT coalition – which includes the Michigan Wheat Program – has kicked off its “Holiday Treats and Traditions” campaign with a focus on … wait for it … cookies!

Have yourself a merry little Michigan holiday this year by thinking local for all your traditional December favorites. In partnership with Kroger, Michigan GROWN, Michigan GREAT wants to see your best Michigan sugar cookies!
  • Use this sugar cookie recipe to whip up the perfect holiday treat.
  • Take a photo.
  • Use the hashtag #MISugarCookie and tag @Michigan GROWN, Michigan GREAT and @Kroger on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
  • Post by December 31 for your chance to win a $500 Kroger gift card. (Michigan residents only)
Of course, no sugar cookie recipe is complete without wheat flour. So, two wholesome Michigan-grown crops come together in the season’s favorite:  Sugar cookies. To ensure you’re buying Michigan sugar, look for the Pioneer® brand which is grown and processed here.

Learn more on the Michigan GROWN, Michigan GREAT website!

No-cost mediation for on-farm conflict resolution

Conflict is part of life, including farm life.  Whether you are a grower, merchandiser, supplier, lender, neighbor or represent a USDA agency, the Michigan Agricultural Mediation Program (MAMP) can assist you in resolving disputes quickly and privately by saving time, money, stress and avoiding court rooms. 

“Mediation empowers people to find their own solutions, instead of a judge deciding for them,” explains Kate Pigott, MAMP Intake Coordinator.  “Mediation might seem formal and intimidating. But essentially, it is just a conversation.”

“A mediator helps people remain focused, productive, and calm. If the parties reach an acceptable solution, they have a written and signed agreement,” Pigott said. “If they do not get a mediated agreement, they can still pursue other resolution and appeal options.”

In recent years, 77% of MAMP cases have reached agreement without proceeding to court. In addition to disputes between farmers and USDA agencies, the program now covers lease issues, farm transitions, organic certification, farm neighbors and more.

Participation is completely free.  A non-profit organization, MAMP traces its roots to the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987 which was in response to the farm loan crisis.  Programs established by this legislation operate in Michigan and 41 other states.

Because MAMP receives grant funds, its mediation services are offered without cost to either party in a dispute.

During COVID, MAMP remains fully operational while adhering to federal, state and local safety recommendations.  If in-person mediation sessions are not possible, remote sessions can be held via online video or phone conference.

All inquiries are free and confidential.  For more information, please email Pigott at; by phone at 1-800-616-7863 to describe the conflict and how mediation works. If you request mediation, MAMP will reach out to the other party to see if he or she is agreeable to this approach.

Click here to find more information about this no-cost mediation for resolving on-farm conflict.

Tune in for Michigan Wheat update
MSU Integrated Crop and Pest Management Update virtual meeting headed your way Dec. 16!

By Phil Kaatz, MSU Extension educator forages and field crops

MSU Extension will be hosting its annual Crop and Pest Management Update for agribusiness, farmers, and agency personnel December 16 – but virtually, from the comfort of your home office chair or La-Z-Boy. RUP and CCA credits will be available.

Click here to review the full schedule which includes an update by Jody Pollok-Newsom on the activities of the Michigan Wheat Program and to register for the event. The 2021 MSU Field Crops Weed Guide will be mailed to you as part of the registration cost.

The 2021 Weed Guide is made possible again this year by funding from the Michigan Wheat Program, along with the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan and the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee.

If you register before December 6, you will receive the Weed Guide prior to the program so that you can more readily follow along.  If after December 6, the Guide is unlikely to arrive before the Dec. 16 virtual meeting.

Registration closes on December 15.
The virtual platform for the Integrated Crop and Pest Management Update meeting will be Zoom.  Once registered, you’ll receive the link and instructions on how to download the free “app” to your computer or mobile device.

MSU Extension has several other meetings scheduled for the end of the year and into the winter season, so please be on the lookout for more emails and program announcements.  Click here for more information. 

If you have any questions about joining a Zoom meeting or session, please don't hesitate to email Phil Kaatz at or call him at (810) 338-5242.

Winter Pest and Field Crop Management Update Meetings also online for 2021

A series of six Zoom-platform virtual meetings will give producers ample opportunity to participate in this winter’s Pest and Field Crop Management Update meetings.  The schedule was released December 2, as follows:
  • Thurs., Jan. 7, 9 am – 12 noon:  Central Michigan
  • Weds., Jan. 13, 9 am – 12 noon; Thumb A
  • Fri., Jan. 15, 9 am – 12 noon (EST); Upper Peninsula/Northern Michigan
  • Tues., Jan. 26, 9 am – 12 noon; Southeast Michigan
  • Fri., Jan. 29, 9 am – 12 noon; Southwest Michigan
  • Tues., Feb. 2, 9 am – 12 noon; Thumb B
Growers are invited to attend one or more of these regional meetings – at a cost of $15 – to get up-to-date, research-based information on crop production and pest management to use on the farm or business in 2021.  Topics are again presented by MSU faculty and specialists, and content may vary from region-to-region based on issues of importance in that area.

 Attend one or more regional Virtual Pest and Crop Management Update meetings to get up-to-date, research-based information for your farm or business.

Advance registration is required, and all registrants will receive a new copy of the 2021 Michigan Weed Control Guide for Field Crops.  Multiple registrations will require a fee for each meeting, but only one Weed Control Guide will be included.

The 2021 Weed Guide is made possible again this year by funding from the Michigan Wheat Program, along with the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan and the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee.

Three RUP credits and CCA continuing education units (CEUs) are available for each meeting.

Click here for more information or to register for the sessions.  Participants using cell phones are encouraged to download the Zoom app prior to the meeting.  For Apple iPhones, download in the App Store and for Android phones, download Zoom from Google Play.

Virtual access puts you in Canada this Jan. 6-7
Four Ontario ag associations hold virtual farm conference

The Canadian Southwest Agricultural Conference, Eastern Ontario Crop Conference, Golden Horseshoe, and Heartland Soil and Crop Improvement Associations have come together in the first-ever Ontario Agricultural Conference with the resulting theme Coming Together.

The Ontario Agricultural Conference will have live sessions on January 6-7, as well as on-demand (recorded) sessions after the show.

The four associations have pulled together an incredible selection of 40 topics providing a tremendous opportunity to improve your farm’s efficiency, effectiveness and profitability – all while participating from the comfort of your home office.

On-demand sessions will be available to registered attendees until March 31, 2021.

To complement the speaker lineup, the conference has created a “virtual” Exhibition Hall and a Coming Together Social Hour. Click here to see the full conference program.

Registration is open now through January 4.

For more information, contact Ontario Agricultural Conference co-chair Albert Tenuta at  Or by phone at (519) 360-8307.

Calendar of events

The Michigan Wheat Program's event calendar is suddenly loaded - with more to come! With all events being virtual, it's almost possible to be two places at once this year!
  • Dec. 9, 2020 – Thumb Ag Day virtual education program
  • Dec. 16, 2020 – MSU Integrated Crop and Pest Management Update virtual meeting
  • Jan. 6-7 – Ontario Virtual Agricultural Conference
  • Jan. 7 – Virtual Pest and Field Crop Management Update Meeting – Central Michigan
  • Jan. 13 – Virtual Pest and Field Crop Management Update Meeting – UP/Northern Michigan
  • Jan. 15 - Virtual Pest and Field Crop Management Update Meeting – Thumb A
  • Jan. 26 – Virtual Pest and Field Crop Management Update Meeting – Southeast Michigan
  • Jan. 28 – Virtual Pest and Field Crop Management Update Meeting – Southwest Michigan
  • Feb. 2 – Virtual Pest and Field Crop Management Update Meeting – Thumb B
  • March 17, 2021 – MICHIGAN WHEAT PROGRAM ANNUAL WINTER GROWER MEETING, Keynote Speaker: Peter Johnson; MSU Saginaw Valley Research & Extension Center, Frankenmuth. 
  • June 9, 2021 – MICHIGAN WHEAT PROGRAM SUMMER FIELD DAY, MSU Pathology Farm, Lansing.

The Michigan Wheat Program wishes you and your family a very Merry Christmas!!
Copyright © 2020 Michigan Wheat Program, All rights reserved.

Phone: 1-888-WHEAT01 (943-2801)   |   Email:   |   Website:

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