What's New in Winter Wheat Varieties

What's New in Winter Wheat Varieties

Freeman hard red winter wheat in field trial

Figure 1. Following three years of field trials in Nebraska, UNL and USDA-ARS are releasing Husker Genetics Brand Freeman. Named in honor of Daniel Freeman, it has superior adaptation for rainfed wheat production systems throughout Nebraska and in states north and west of Nebraska.

August 14, 2013

Freeman — New Release Outshines Most in Rainfed Wheat Trials

The University of Nebraska and USDA-ARS have released a new wheat variety that will be marketed as Husker Genetics Brand Freeman (formerly tested as NE06545) Hard Red Winter Wheat. It is named in honor of Daniel Freeman, the first person to file for a homestead under the Homestead Act of 1862 which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2012.

Freeman was released primarily for its superior adaptation to rainfed wheat production systems throughout Nebraska and in states north and west of Nebraska. Based on results from three years of Nebraska Variety Trials, Freeman was either the top producer or was in the highest yielding group in rainfed production in southeast, south central, west central, and western Nebraska. We always recommend looking at the three-year averages because historically there has been considerable climate variation from year to year. Freeman is not recommended for irrigated production as other lines are better suited to and have better straw strength for those conditions. Freeman appears to be widely adapted to the northern Great Plains and has performed well in the USDA regional nurseries.

Characteristics of Freeman Hard Red Winter Wheat

A semi-dwarf wheat with a relatively long coleoptile for a semi-dwarf wheat, Freeman is similar to Settler CL. It averages 33 inches tall, slightly taller than Wesley and slightly shorter than Overland. Freeman is

  • resistant to soilborne wheat mosaic virus and is among the best for resistance to bacterial streak;
  • moderately resistant to moderately susceptible to stem rust;
  • moderately resistant to susceptible to leaf and stripe rust;
  • moderately susceptible to Fusarium head blight;
  • moderately susceptible to susceptible to Hessian fly; and
  • susceptible to barley yellow dwarf virus and wheat streak mosaic virus.

It is low in grain volume weight, similar to NuPride Genetics Brand Camelot and Wesley, but lower than Husker Genetics Brand Overland. Freeman should be acceptable to the milling and baking industries.

Freeman will be an excellent complementary wheat to Camelot, Overland, Husker Genetics Brand Robidoux, and Husker Genetics Brand Settler CL. The latter four lines continue to perform extremely well across Nebraska and in similar areas in adjacent states. In individual regions, other lines have performed very well, but lack the broad adaptation of Freeman, Camelot, Overland, Robidoux, and Settler CL.

Additional New Wheat Varieties

New varieties from other programs that should be considered for Nebraska production are SY Wolf; Westbred Cedar, and Winterhawk; and Plains Gold Byrd, Denali, and Brawl CL plus. Additional data on these and other varieties (many of which have fewer years of testing, but look promising) can be found at in the Wheat Variety Trial section of CropWatch. 

No wheat variety has all the needed traits for every year and every region, so we highly recommend that wheat growers consult the Nebraska Wheat Variety Testing webpage to find the latest information on varieties and to diversify their risk by growing complementary varieties.

P. Stephen Baenziger
UNL Wheat Breeder


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