2017 Nebraska Winter Wheat Variety Testing and Overall Results

UNL winter wheat variety trial in a farmer field
Figure 1. University variety trials conducted in a farmer's field with farmer practices in Jefferson County in southeast Nebraska. (Photos by Teshome Regassa)

2017 Nebraska Winter Wheat Variety Testing and Overall Results August 28, 2017

In 2017 winter wheat variety testing was conducted at 14 rainfed and two irrigated sites in Nebraska. All sites were harvested except for one rainfed and one irrigated site. The sites are distributed across the state to capture a range of environments, rainfall distribution, and disease occurrences. Some trials were conducted on research farms while others were conducted on farmer fields. Thus, the crop management, soil type, tillage system, crop rotation, and other inputs were as diverse as the number of host farmers. This has helped to test the varieties under diverse managements and environments.

Characteristics of each of the sites are listed in the 2017 Fall Seed Guide so growers can identify which are similar to her/his farm. Individual variety performance data posted on cropwatch.unl.edu/winter-wheat-variety-test-results will be a good starting point to see how the varieties performed at individual testing sites in 2017. A producer could also use mean variety performance values at sites closely representing her/his farm to evaluate the relative performance of current and past varieties grown on the farm.

Wesley variety of wheat
Ruth winter wheat variety

Figure 2. Wesley (left), an established winter wheat variety in Nebraska, provides opportunities for comparison with some newer offerings, such as Ruth (right). (Photos by Teshome Regassa)

Variety performance at one location or one season is not always a good indicator of future performance of a variety. Variety performance data across multiple testing locations within a region (Nebraska testing locations are grouped by region) will help evaluate the stability of a given variety. All rainfed testing regions have more than two testing sites except the south central region, which has only one testing site (Clay County). Yield, averaged across three years and several locations, is provided for each region to overcome limitations of seasonal repeatability as well as variations across location. The Fall Seed Guide offers regional variety performance over two years, three years, or four years. Three-year performance data is considered adequate for recommending a variety for a region. Three-year performance mean for each region is shown at UNL Crop Variety and Hybrid Testing Program 2017 Variety Test Results web site.

For the 2016/2017 testing season we also tested diverse varieties and experimental lines from both public and private industry breeding programs. Most of the varieties and experimental lines tested originated from the UNL wheat breeding program. Some varieties originated from public breeding program in neighboring states. Limagrain Cereal Seeds, Agripro-Syngenta, and WesBred are industry partners with larger number of varieties submitted for testing. The diversity of sources has made possible for Nebraska farmers to have many excellent varieties to choose from. Average winter wheat yield for a site this past season was above 100 bu/ac which is a record. Average wheat yields were in the 90’s for most sites. The high yield and consistency in the high yield range indicates the yielding quality of varieties available.

To evaluate suitability of various wheat varieties to a specific farm, review location and trial data at the UNL Crop Variety and Hybrid Testing Program 2017 Variety Test Results. Start with the current year individual site performance data. Using sites that compare with your farm, select two or more varieties to research further.

Look for varieties with superior performance from the test location that is closest to your farm, evaluate whether the management applied is economical in relation to your circumstances, and decide which varieties look fitting to your production objective. Expand your evaluation to the next closest test locations, keeping in mind your management and production environment, especially rainfall. Then evaluate the strength of the varieties for constancy in performance, particularly yielding ability under different management (management for each test site is provided in the Fall Seed Guide) as well as performance across years. Yield under irrigation (if available) can be used as a proxy to production under non-limiting rainfall.

The seed guide also provides additional variety information in the form of variety characteristics such as reaction to major disease, winter hardiness, straw strength, plant height, and coleoptile length. Coleoptile length can be used as a proxy to evaluate emergence under different tillage conditions and possible emergence impediment form sealing soil.

Every farm is unique and often has variability. Since different varieties have different variables and strengths, it makes sense to select multiple varieties that complement each other. Using multiple varieties will help hedge the probable risk of disease, moisture stress, low germination, or low quality and variable yield.

You can’t know in advance what diseases will be most problematic or the amount and distribution of rainfall. Different varieties have different level of tolerance to stress or missed management opportunities. Good management and appropriate inputs should be part of your thinking when selecting varieties. Management can make or break varietal performance.

Table 1 lists wheat varieties with the best three-year mean yield performance across locations tested by region. Please refer to 2017 Fall Seed Guide for detailed information. Varieties like Zanda and Oakley CL from Kansas and Langin form Colorado were not tested in Nebraska for three years and are absent from the table. These varieties had impressive performance where they were tested. It is strongly suggested that farmers have a look at these varieties when selecting varieties for 2017/2018.

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Wheat in UNL field trial showing freeze damage
Figure 3. NE12561, an experimental wheat in the pipeline, shows promising results.
Table 1. Top Yielding Wheat Varieties with Best Three-Year Mean Yield (bu/ac) Performance and Yield Rank Across Locations, Tested by Region (Source: University of Nebraska Variety Testing)
Southeast Yield (Bu/Ac)South Central Yield (Bu/Ac)West Central Yield (Bu/Ac)Panhandle Yield (Bu/Ac)Rainfed Average Yield (Bu/Ac)Irrigated Average Yield (Bu/Ac)Southeast (Rank)South Central (Rank)West Central (Rank)Panhandle (Rank)Irrigated (Rank)
Ruth 71 56 73 52 63 96 3 2 1 1 5
Freeman 73 48 69 51 60 2 4 3 2
Overland 63 49 63 47 55 4 3 7 6
SY Wolf 80 62 45 62 106 1 8 8 2
SY Monument 72 50 61 2 3
WB-Grainfield 61 69 50 60 109 1 3 3 1
LCS Mint 45 62 50 52 93 5 8 3 7
SY Sunrise 68 68 4
Robidoux 69 51 60 96 3 2 5
T158 65 49 57 6 4
Winterhawk 67 47 57 5 6
Avery 62 49 56 8 4
Infinity CL 63 45 54 7 8
WB-Cedar 73 73 96 2 5
Cowboy 48 48 95 5 6
Panhandle 46 46 7
WB4458 103 3
wesley 100 4