Now is the time to take stock in which wheat varieties you want to grow next year. The best place to start is to look at the University’s Wheat Variety Trials. Teshome Regassa coordinates these trials and they provide data for every region (southeast, south central, west central, west, and irrigated) where wheat is grown in Nebraska.
I recommend that you look at the three-year averages because every year is different and it is better to look at an average over time that base your decision on the year-to-year fluctuations. Also, while grain yield remains the most important attribute of selecting a variety, the market also expects and rewards high test weight and protein, so also consider these important traits.
Top Performers by Region
Southeast. The top five available lines were SY (Syngenta) Wolf, Freeman, WB (Westbred)-Cedar, Ruth, and Overland. What was impressive was that the lines all yielded 63 to 80 bu/ac or more. These yields have to be considered good and many of the testing sites were sprayed with fungicides to control diseases. All the lines had good protein content (13% to 15%) and lower test weights (54 to 56 lb/bu) due to rain during grain filling and harvest.
South Central. The top five lines were WB-Grainfield, Ruth, Overland, Freeman, and LCS (Limagrain) Mint. Yields were closer to normal, ranging from 45 to 61 bu/ac. Test weights were not reported, but protein content was 13% or higher.
West Central. The top five lines were Ruth, SY Monument, Freeman, WB-Grainfield, and Robidoux. These lines yielded 69 to 72 bu/ac which is a good yield for this region. The test weights were low (ranging from 53 to 55 lb/bu, possibly due to drought and disease in the past three years) and the protein content was good (13% to 14%).
West. The top five lines were Ruth, Robidoux, Freeman, LCS Mint, and WB-Grainfield. Their yields ranged from 50 to 52 bu/ac. The test weight ranged from 59 to 61 lb/bu and the protein content was (11%-13%).
Irrigated. The top five lines were WB-Grainfield, SY Wolf, WB4458, Wesley, and WB-Cedar. Their yields ranged from 96 to 109 bu/ac. The test weights were good (59 to 60 lb/bu) and the protein content was 13 to 15%.
New Release Ruth Performs Well Across Rainfed Regions
With the possible exception of irrigated trials where Ruth yielded 96 bu/ac, Ruth had an excellent year, placing in the top five lines throughout all the rainfed production regions. It is the most recent release from the collaborative USDA-ARS University of Nebraska Wheat Improvement Program. Ruth has many qualities besides high yield potential. It generally has good test weight and in comparison to other varieties is about 1% higher in protein. Hence, it has what the market wants.
For disease resistance, Ruth is moderately resistant to stripe (yellow) and stem rust and wheat soilborne mosaic virus; however it is susceptible to leaf rust and wheat streak mosaic virus. It also has above-average straw strength and good end-use quality. It was released last year to certified seed producers. Seed of this will be available this year to growers, but I expect it may be next year before there are ample seed supplies. It is certainly a line with broad adaptation and one that should be considered.
WB-Grainfield also had an excellent year. Within each region many lines did well, highlighting their specific adaptation.
Winter Triticale and Barley Trials
It should be noted that the state variety trials also include data on winter triticale and barley for those small grains producers who are interested in those crops.