As planting time approaches for the 2016-17 winter wheat crop season, farmers have many wheat varieties from which to choose.
Producers may prefer a certain variety for highest yield, but the same variety may produce more bushels per acre in one county than the next. Certain varieties may yield less than the top performers, but outperform them under challenging conditions, such as where there are problems with stripe rust, wheat stem sawfly, or dry soil.
For every planting season Nebraska Extension develops lists of recommended varieties for each wheat-producing region of Nebraska, based on data from several years of variety trials at numerous locations. The Wheat Virtual Varieties Tour is part of Nebraska Extension’s CropWatch website.
The Virtual Tour lists wheat varieties best suited to each of four wheat-growing regions in Nebraska: the Panhandle, West Central, South Central, and Southeast. Web visitors can click on individual variety names for more information and a list of local seed dealers.
The variety trials compare wheat cultivars from both public and private wheat-breeding programs for seed yield, test weight, diseases, and general adaptability under both rainfed and irrigated production conditions.
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Each year variety performance data for each region is obtained by averaging multiple locations from the region. In 2016, rainfed/dryland variety trials were conducted at testing locations in these counties:
- Southeast Region — Saline, Lancaster, and Saunders;
- South Central — Clay;
- West Central — Keith, Furnas, Lincoln, and Perkins;
- Panhandle — Cheyenne, Deuel, Banner, and Box Butte; and
- Irrigated Variety Trials — Panhandle (Box Butte County) and in the West Central District (Chase County).
All locations bring diversity of testing environment and level of management under which the varieties were tested. The immediate past three years of data were used to calculate 2016 average yields for each region. The 2016 yields were averaged with yields from 2015 and 2014 to produce a three-year average for the common varieties. These three-year average data were used to develop the recommended list of varieties for each region.
The recommended varieties have different characteristics related to diverse production challenges across each region. The primary criterion is high grain yield production potential. Other criteria are grain quality (test weight and protein content) and better disease and insect resistance, compared to older varieties.