Update on Wheat Varieties for Nebraska: 2018 was an Unusual Year

Update on Wheat Varieties for Nebraska: 2018 was an Unusual Year

Now is the time to take stock of which wheat varieties you want to grow next year. The Nebraska Winter Wheat Variety Trials are the best place to start; however, take the 2018 data with a grain of salt as this was an unusual year.

In the east we had record heat (102°F at flowering) with some light drought. In the southwest we had more rainfall than normal in many trial locations, and in the west, only one of four trials provided useful information due to hail damage. Hence, when considering the three-year averages, data from the 2017 Nebraska Fall Seed Guide might be as or more instructive than the data from 2018.

These trials, coordinated by Teshome Regassa, provide data for every region (southeast, south central, west central, west, and irrigated) where wheat is grown in Nebraska. (See summary of 2018 trial results.) 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 than base your decision on a single year, avoiding year-to-year fluctuations as seen in 2018. 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.

Agronomy Professor Stephen Baenziger speaking at a wheat variety trial field day at the High Plains Ag Lab near Sidney in 2018.
Agronomy Professor P. Stephen Baenziger speaking at a wheat variety field day at the High Plains Ag Lab near Sidney in 2018.

Nebraska Wheat Variety Trials

Considering the regions and using the three averages from 2018, the top five available lines in each region were:


  • WB (Westbred)-Grainfield,
  • SY (Syngenta) Wolf,
  • WB-4721,
  • Zenda, and
  • WB-4303 and NE12561 (tied). NE12561 was recently recommended for release as Seige.

What was impressive was that the lines all yielded 89 to 91bu/ac, which has to be considered exceptional. Some of the testing sites were sprayed with fungicides to control the few diseases that were present. All the lines had good protein content (13 to 14%) and fair test weights (55 to 60 lbs/bu) due to rain during grain filling and harvest.

South Central

  • WB-Grainfield,
  • WB-4721,
  • Limagrain Cereal Seeds (LCS)-Link (jointly developed with the University of Nebraska),
  • SY Monument, and
  • LCS Chrome.

Yields were closer to normal (65 to 69 bu/ac). Test weights were low due to weathering (51 to 57 lbs/bu) and protein content was 13% or higher.

West Central

  • SY-Monument,
  • LCS Link,
  • Ruth,
  • WB-Grainfield, and
  • Tatanka and LCS Chrome (tied).   

Yields ranged from 75 to 77 bu/ac which is a good yield for this region. The test weights were low (55 to 57 lbs/bu) and the protein content was average (12% to 13%).


  • Freeman,
  • Dyna-Grow Seeds Long Branch,
  • Ruth,
  • WG-Grainfield, and
  • Robidoux.

Yields ranged from 65 to 68 bu/ac. Test weight ranged from 58 to 60 lbs/bu and the protein content was 11% to 12%). However, remember that only one site was harvested in 2018; in most years, the average would be compiled from four sites.

West Irrigated

Based on 2018 data only, the top five lines were

  • Croplan Exp. 69-16,
  • Robidoux,
  • SY Wolf,
  • WB-4418 and
  • AgriMaxx Eastwood and NHH144913-3 (tied). (NHH144913-3 is a two-gene Clearfield line that has been recommended for release.)

Yields ranged from 99 bu/ac to 102 bu/ac. Test weights were low (55 to 56 lbs/bu) and the protein content was 13% to 14%.  

Nebraska's Ruth: A Wheat Line to Watch

When considering the 2017 and 2018 data for the Nebraska-developed varieties, Ruth continues to be a line to watch. In the future, Seige will do very well in the east and the new two-gene Clearfield wheat will add choice to our growers’ options. Ruth has many qualities besides high yield potential. It generally has good test weight and in comparison to other varieties is higher in protein. Hence it has what the market wants. For disease resistance, it 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. WB-Grainfield, SY Wolf, and LCS Link also had good years and within each region many lines did well highlighting their specific adaptation.

It should be noted that the state variety trials also include data on winter triticale and barley for those small grain producers interested in those crops.

Support from the Nebraska Wheat Board for this research is gratefully acknowledged.

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A field of corn.