Kansas Wheat: Which Variety Should I Pick?

    A research plot of comparable pea and wheat cropping systems at the Arthur H. Post Agronomy Teaching and Research Farm in Bozeman. MSU scientists recently published a study that found that wheat growers who grow both pea and wheat in their fields are likely to lessen the economic risks of farming while maintaining the same level of profits as those who grow only wheat or leave a field fallow. Photo courtesy of Perry Miller

    Many producers are evaluating the performance of their current wheat varieties and considering new varieties they should plant here in a couple of months. Clearly, the yield potential of a wheat variety is a top priority, but resistance to diseases and insect pests is also an important factor to consider when selecting a wheat variety. 

    The Wheat Variety Disease and Insect Ratings publication from K-State Research and Extension can help growers identify the best varieties for their farms. The publication also provides helpful summaries to help producers better understand the historical risk of diseases in their area and quickly identify the varieties with the best overall disease resistance.

    Copies of the 2015 KSU Wheat Variety Disease and Insect Ratings, can be found on-line or at any of the Post Rock Extension District Offices.

    The Post Rock Extension District had 5 wheat demonstration test plots in the area and the yield reports are posted on our district website or are available at any of the Post Rock Extension Offices in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.  Be sure to also look at the K-State Research and Extension experiment sites across Kansas with Belleville and Hays being the closest to our area. One of the plots in our district was a replicated plot associated with the Belleville site that will be included in the KSU Wheat performance booklet.

    The use of wheat variety blends is also a big question of producers. Blends can offer producers some yield stability in most cases. While any one variety may do much better or worse than other varieties in the same vicinity, having a blend of two or three varieties can usually even out those ups and downs. Using blends also reduces the chances of having a landlord upset because the variety planted yielded considerably less than other fields in the area.

    There are just a few guidelines to remember.

    • Use varieties with different disease resistance.  Although the cost effectiveness of fungicides now may reduce the importance of this factor, there is still value to having at least one natural source of resistance to diseases.
    • Use varieties with slightly different maturities. If producers can spread out the maturity a bit, there is a better chance that at least one of the varieties can benefit from a given weather pattern.
    • And lastly, don’t be afraid to try the new varieties in a blend.

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