One thing Robert Duncan of College Station emphasizes as Texas AgriLife Extension Service state small-grains specialist is to look at more than just one year’s data when considering wheat varieties.
For example, Fannin wheat from AgriPro looked excellent in field trials at Abilene with the three-year average through 2010 of 69.2 bushels per acre.
“Year in and year out, Fannin has been an outstanding wheat variety,” Duncan says.
Todd Baughman, Extension agronomist, Vernon, also notes that Fannin is an early-maturity variety, which helped it finish out well in this year’s drought. Duncan says Fannin is resistant to leaf rust, stripe rust and powdery mildew.
Like a racehorse that surprises everyone, Duster from Oklahoma State University also has excelled not only in Oklahoma, but in Texas as well.
• You should look at more than one year’s data on wheat varieties.
• Many new wheat varieties are showing outstanding results in trials.
• Some wheat varieties perform well for both grain and forage goals.
“Duster from OSU has shown to be an outstanding variety,” Baughman observes.
The variety gets its name because it can be “dusted in” under droughty conditions and tolerates dry weather well.
Baughman also notes that Duster has shown resistance to the Hessian fly.
Like Duncan, he suggests planting more than one wheat variety to get new genetics, disease resistance and different traits.
Greer, a new AgriPro-Syngenta wheat variety, has been extremely impressive in field trials, even under adverse conditions. Billings, another wheat variety from OSU, has been right with it in yield.
W.B. Stout is a new wheat from Monsanto’s WestBred program, and because it is so new, the jury is still out on it. However, Armour, another variety from WestBred breeding, has shown to be among the top wheat varieties.
TX06A0011263, an experimental wheat from Texas A&M University, and OK05526, an experimental breeding line from Oklahoma State University, have both been outstanding in trials on just one year’s data, but they will need more years of performance to become proven.
For those with Hessian fly problems, Coronado shows resistance to the fly.
Some producers in the Southwest grow wheat more for livestock forage than grain.
David Drake, Texas AgriLife Extension agronomist, San Angelo, says a good fertility program is essential for top forage production for wheat, oats, barley and triticale. Fannin, Duster and TAM 203 are among Drake’s favorites when looking at data from two years of wheat trial results for forage production.
The good news there for farmer-stockmen, who seek dual-purpose wheat for grain and forage, is that all three make good grain yields.
Santa Fe, Weathermaster and TAM 401 also are impressive in forage production.
Dealing with drought
Duncan notes this past March was the overall driest March in Texas since 1895 — and came on the heels of a fall as dry as the 1930s Dust Bowl era.
Subsequently, some 75% of the Texas wheat crop went into this spring rated “poor” to “very poor.” This year’s Texas crop was projected to be about one-third of average.
Duncan says growers can consider reduced tillage to save what precious moisture they have looking at fall. Deep placement of phosphorus, rather than surface-applied, also helps with root mass growth. That can help wheat deal with droughty conditions, and a good root mass also helps the wheat plant reach nitrogen.
Baughman adds that weeds don’t take up herbicide as well in a drought. He says Roundup is good to stop windmill grass after harvest, and Axial is an effective product to control wild oats.
Texas AgriLife Extension entomologist Chris Sansone of San Angelo says he has seen where seed treatments took out early aphids, avoiding having to spray early.
“Think about managing your strategies for a particular variety,” Sansone suggests. “And manage wheat for the type of year.”
When an insect is the vector of a wheat disease, such as aphids or mites, Sansone says preventive measures are best. Mites thrive during drought, he adds.