2016 Winter Wheat Varieties for Nebraska

It usually takes five to 10 years of research and testing before a new wheat variety is released for production. (Photo by David Ostdiek)
It usually takes five to 10 years of research and testing before a new wheat variety is released for production. (Photo by David Ostdiek)

2016 Winter Wheat Varieties for Nebraska

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.

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.

To find the 2016 yield and other characteristics of each recommended variety at a testing site near your farm, see the 2016 UNL Fall Seed Guide, available online and in print from the Extension publications section of the UNL Marketplace.

2016 UNL Fall Seed Guide cover

The seed guide also lists soil type, tillage, previous crop, residue management, and major inputs used at a test location where a variety was tested. Producers are encouraged to relate the test site information to their farm to assess whether they're likely to see similar results under their farming conditions and management practices. The seed guide also displays key variety characteristics such as relative maturity, winter hardiness, straw strength, coleoptile length, disease and insect resistance, and relative ranking across locations where the variety was tested for yield, bushel weight, and protein. The yield ranking can be used to indirectly judge consistency in variety performance.

Additional Things to Consider

In selecting wheat varieties for each field, producers should consider issues such as if the region has a recent history of diseases and insect (e.g., stripe rust and wheat stem sawfly in the Panhandle and west central Nebraska, leaf rust in eastern Nebraska), soil moisture at planting time, and history of wild rye and other troublesome weeds in the field. The specific issues may be different in different regions. Producers should select varieties resistant to these common diseases and insects to reduce potential yield loss. Disease ratings and other important characteristics for all varieties can be found on page 17 of the Seed Book published by the Nebraska Crop Improvement Association.

For example, stem sawfly is an issue in the Panhandle but is not an issue in eastern Nebraska. If the field has a history of stem sawfly, producers may consider planting solid-stem varieties like Warhorse or Bearpaw. If the field is too dry and needs deep planting, farmers should select varieties with a long coleoptile like Goodstreak, Pronghorn or Buckskin. If wild rye is present, farmers should plant Clearfield varieties like Brawl CL Plus and Settler CL. The CL varieties require that growers complete a stewardship agreement (available online from AgCelerate) to ​purchase the seed and ​use the herbicide Beyond (BASF) to control weeds.

If dry conditions continue in west central Nebraska, getting seed to the proper seeding depth could be a problem when no-till seeding winter wheat this fall. Shallow-seeded wheat is more subject to winter injury so selecting winter wheat varieties that have better winter hardiness will be important. One needs to do everything possible to get seed to the proper depth.

Also, if you are seeding winter wheat next to someone who did not control volunteer wheat, especially early volunteer as a result of hail, select varieties with more tolerance to wheat streak mosaic. Since many winter wheat fields in the West Central District needed to be treated in 2015 and 2016 to reduce loss from stripe rust, select varieties with a high rating against the disease, especially if you do not plan to treat for the disease in 2016.

Producers also hedge the unpredictability of a season by selecting multiple varieties that bring different agronomic qualities. When such varieties are coupled with the right management practices, performance is expected to be near yield potential. Good management and appropriate inputs should be part of the conversation when selecting a variety. Good management can make an average variety perform better, while poor management can make a superior variety a second-rate performer.


A list of recommended varieties for each of the four wheat-growing regions in Nebraska (Panhandle, west central, south central and southeast) is available online at https://cropwatch.unl.edu/wheat/virtual.

For more information on these varieties contact Dipak Santra, alternative crops breeding specialist at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, at: dsantra2@unl.edu; office: 308-632-1244 and cell: 970-397-9817.


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