Long-time extension wheat specialist to retire – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Long-time extension wheat specialist to retire

By Steve Watson

032014-shroyerMANHATTAN, Kan. – For more than 30 years, the face of wheat in Kansas has been Jim Shroyer, K-State Research and Extension crop production specialist. He has informed and entertained his “family” of producers in the state at wheat tours, field days, and meetings since he started at K-State in 1980. Shroyer will retire on July 3, 2014.

To Shroyer, being the extension wheat specialist in Kansas has been more than just a job. It’s been a professional and personal relationship with thousands of producers and co-workers in the agricultural industry and the university.

His co-workers, such as Tom Maxwell, K-State Central Kansas Extension district agent, agree with the value of the long-term relationships that have developed between Shroyer and other extension specialists and their audience.

“Shroyer’s expertise and humor have been a long-standing hit with our farmers in this area, and he will be missed,” Maxwell said. “Everybody across the board knows who Jim Shroyer is.”

The personal nature of extension is the core of its strength and its greatest asset, Shroyer said.

“Extension work involves a large human investment in the people of the state. It’s a people business,” he said. “That’s one of the things I’ll miss the most about this job – the bonding I’ve had with stakeholders and the county agents.”

There have been many good memories over the years, he said.

“Being out in wheat fields with farmers – that’s just heaven. It is always hard for me to believe they actually pay me for the pleasure of this work,” Shroyer said. “My absolute favorite thing is doing the wheat tours. That’s when I get to see the wheat as it’s approaching the finish line and discuss the growing season with farmers. I learn more from talking with farmers at the wheat tours than they learn from me.”

“I’ve also enjoyed, and still enjoy, playing Sherlock Holmes and trying to figure out the cause of problems farmers are seeing in their wheat fields. This is always a team effort with others at K-State,” he added.

Nothing is possible without a good team of fellow professionals at K-State over the years, he said.

“We have a really great network of county extension agents in Kansas, maybe the best in the entire country. And you can’t ask for better university faculty to work with than what I’ve been lucky enough to have at K-State. Every one of them has made my job easier, and helped us all provide good research-based information to the farmers of the state,” he said.

Shroyer has been the extension specialist for more crops than just wheat during his tenure at K-State. He has also worked extensively with corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and grain sorghum. Some of his significant contributions, in conjunction with others, have been:

  • Introducing no-till alfalfa;
  • Pioneering work in the system of planting short-season corn early in the season;
  • Developing and testing of wheat blends as a viable practice;
  • Developing management practices for planting wheat after row crops;
  • Developing pre-plant wheat schools in the summer;
  • The “Diagnosing Wheat Production Problems” publication;
  • The Adopt-a-Wheat-Field website;
  • Promoting and strengthening the system of wheat tours at the county level;
  • Initiating the annual Kid’s Field Day at the Agronomy North Farm; and
  • Teaching the Agronomy 360 course on crop production.

He has also written a well-received children’s book titled “The Adventures of Holly Holstein: Holly Greets the World,” available on Amazon.

After retiring, Shroyer plans to do consulting work and write more children’s books.

His position as extension crop production specialist is important to the agricultural community in Kansas, said Gary Pierzynski, head of K-State’s Department of Agronomy.

“That position is on hold at the present time, however, pending state budget deliberations,” he said.

Those who would like to submit a note to Shroyer can send it to: Brittany Green, Administrative Specialist, Re: Jim Shroyer Retirement, Department of Agronomy, 2004 Throckmorton Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan KS 66506.

Story by Steve Watson, [email protected].

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