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July 7 Spillman Field Day to Mark Milestones

PULLMAN, Wash. — Two important milestones will be marked at the July 7 field day of Washington State University’s Spillman Agronomy Farm, just south of Pullman:

  • the 50th anniversary of the purchase of the Spillman Farm site and
  • the 100th anniversary of the release of the first of more than 90 wheat varieties developed and released by WSU breeders.

Field days give growers an opportunity to observe experimental lines of cereal and legume crops being developed by WSU and U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service scientists.

Crowd at Cereal Field Day at Spillman in 1962
Crowd at Cereal Field Day at Spillman in 1962. Click image for a high-resolution version.

“The wheats we developed 100 years ago are still in the pedigrees of the wheats we grow today,” said Stephen Jones, WSU winter wheat breeder.

The first was Hybrid 60, a hard white winter wheat, developed by the university’s first wheat breeder William Jasper Spillman.

“It was one of the first, if not the first, wheat released in the country that was the result of planned hybridization,” Jones said.

The first 222 acres of the Spillman Agronomy Farm were acquired in the fall of 1955. The farm was dedicated at the first field day on July 7, 1957. An additional 160 acres of land was purchased in 1961.

Old varieties of wheat, barley, dry peas, chickpeas and lentils developed here will be showcased at the field day as well as current lines, according to Jones. Old and contemporary plot equipment will be displayed as well, along with historic photos.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. Field tours are scheduled from 8:15 a.m. to noon. Bob Allan, retired USDA-Agricultural Research Service wheat geneticist, who has been conducting research on the farm since 1957, will be the featured speaker during lunch. Robert A. Nilan, retired WSU barley breeder, whose career spanned the beginning of Spillman, will be on hand as well.

The field day is dedicated to Rod Bertramsom, who died March 23. Bertramson served as chair of the WSU agronomy department (now crop and soil sciences department) from to 1949 to 1967.

Spillman Farm is located at 1452 Johnson Road. Contact Debbie Marsh, extension secretary, at (509) 335-2915 for more information.

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