With shared stories, a few jokes, a glass plaque and sincerely expressed gratitude for 34 years of service, Wheat Day at the Kansas State University Research Center at Hays bid adieu to K-State Research and Extension Wheat Specialist, Dr. Jim Shroyer on Friday.
Shroyer is retiring in late July and his final, official Wheat Day, sponsored jointly by K-State and Kansas Wheat brought out the best-known faces in Kansas wheat research, including Syngenta AgriPro Senior Fellow Dr. Rollie Sears, who began his own career at K-State alongside Shroyer in 1980; longtime breeder at the Hays Research Station, Dr. Joe Martin, who retired in 2012; Westbred breeder, Dr. Sid Perry, K-State breeder Dr. Allan Fritz and Limagrain Cereal Seeds breeder Dr. Marla Barnett.
Shroyer took some good-natured teasing about his venture into children's book writing and got in a plug for his "Holly the Holstein" book, which is still available for $10 a copy. Friend and colleague Dr. Curtis Thompson urged audience members to buy copies of the book in order to prevent the sequel, which he said will deal with "dairy burgers." Not to be outdone, Shroyer shouted out "Save Holly, Buy a Book!"
Following the award presentation, Shroyer took to the demonstration field with Wheat Day participants, doing what he loves to do best: talk about wheat varieties, how they are doing and which ones hold promise for the future for Kansas wheat growers.
This has been a year that has taught breeders less than they would like to learn in a growing season about potential new varieties because drought stress has overwhelmed every other issue in the plots, with disease and insect pressure remaining virtually absent.
"It is odd to have a year where you see virtually no disease pressure," Shroyer said.
In fact, the only demo plots at Hays displaying full blown signs of wheat streak mosaic, a common problem in western Kansas, were the ones where plants were intentionally inoculated with the virus. Even a plot with an abundance of volunteer wheat was virtually disease- free.
At the end of the day, Shroyer assured wheat growers that today was definitely not the last they will see of him. He intends to pursue an "active" retirement that will include participation in wheat events and probably the annual Wheat Quality Tour as well.
"I'll still be around," he said. "I won't disappear."
You can learn more about Shroyer's career (and pick up a few added stories) in the May issue of Kansas Farmer.