Countdown to Wheat College

Canadian agronomist will dial into the details of growing a successful wheat  crop

By Trista Crossley
Editor, Wheat Life

The details matter when it comes to growing a successful crop, and it’s the details that Ted Labun will be focusing on at next month’s Wheat College.

Labun is the owner of TLC Agronomics Inc., a consulting company based in Calgary, Alberta, that works with producers to grow successful crops by incorporating best agronomic and management practices. He spent 19 years as a field biologist focusing on pest control in cereals, pulses and canola, followed by 21 years as a technical lead supporting seed treatment technology, in western Canada.

“Wheat is a very unique crop. Most people would say, ‘How is it unique? Everyone grows it.’ That’s the point. Everyone grows it,” he said. “Whether you are in China or Brazil or western Europe or any of these countries, they are all growing wheat somewhere. But how they grow their wheat is very different depending on a lot of factors.”

The annual Wheat College, part of the Agricultural Marketing and Management Organization’s grower workshops, will be held June 6, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Palouse Empire Fairgrounds in Colfax, Wash. Admittance is free of charge, and Wheat College is open to all growers, not just Washington Association of Wheat Growers members. Preregistration is required, and lunch will be provided. Pesticide credits have been applied for.

Labun will be focusing on four things that affect agronomic practices:

  • Growing conditions, specifically moisture and temperature.
  • Crop rotations.
  • Soil and moisture management.
  • Pest management.

Like Eastern Washington growers, growers in the Canadian prairies use a variety of practices to grow crops. After looking at the big picture, Labun plans to zero in on several Canadian prairie farms he works with that have higher-than-average yields and share what they do in terms of their agronomic practices.

“I want to make sure I put everything in context. I think that’s critical,” Labun said. “That’s why I think giving an overall view first (is best) and then drilling down to four unique farms with very unique agronomic practices and what they do to be successful in growing a crop of wheat.”

Efficiencies and technology are also topics Labun expects to touch on. He said that sometimes, growers can lose sight of basic agronomic factors because technology overshadows them. As farms get bigger, so does the need to be more efficient, which can also impact agronomic practices. Finally, Labun wants growers to understand that they are a farm’s most important asset.

“That’s the message I want to leave with the farmer, that they are the most important thing on the farm, and if they don’t take care of themselves, nothing else matters,” he explained. “I feel very humble to be able to come down and talk to (Washington) growers about agronomy.”

Wheat College will wrap up with additional rotational topics, presented by: 

  • Ric Wesselman, Syngenta, will be showing Rhizotrons and providing a deep dive on root health and their contribution to dryland wheat farming.
  • Altitude Agri Services will be demonstrating their DJI Agras T30 drones with both spraying liquid and dry product spreading. They will fly short missions on site that demonstrate what the drones do.
  • Aaron Esser and Rachel Weime from Washington State University Extension.

To register for the 2023 Wheat College, go online at or call the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) office at (509) 659-0610. RSVP by May 26 to be entered into drawings for items such as a Yeti cooler and gift cards from Cabela’s and North 40.

“We are always looking to bring the best and most current information to our growers. This year’s Wheat College will feature some new faces to bring new perspectives that I think our growers will appreciate,” said KayDee Gilkey, outreach coordinator for WAWG.