Wheat Variety Selection and Complementation
by Roger H. Hammons
Stone Creek Enterprises, Lincoln, Nebraska
Because there is no single perfect wheat variety for all production systems or in all years, using a simple variety complementation technique will enable you to realize the greatest benefit from its array of strengths and offset to a high degree the potential weaknesses (production limitations) found in each variety. This compensation improves the opportunity for yield stability and profitability of your entire wheat production system.
The number of complementary varieties that you grow as part of your wheat farming enterprise and the acres planted to each variety will depend entirely on your specific production conditions and any special needs (common diseases or insects, etc.).
There are 4 steps to use in developing and updating your wheat farm's variety complementation strategy:
Identify your workhorse varieties.
These are the varieties you now grow on a majority of your wheat acres because they have a reliable and proven record of performance over a period of years in your preferred production management system.
Complement your production need and limits.
Select a variety or varieties that have characteristics needed for your specific production practices (for example, straw strength, height) and typical soil conditions or offer the best level of protection you need from expected diseases and other yield limiting, factors common to your growing conditions or area.
Complement with a range in maturity.
The major limiting factor to wheat production in Nebraska is the short grain fill period (from 2½ to 4 weeks). Because you can never be sure about the weather during that critical time of year, you want to select varieties that will mature earlier (or later or some of both) than your workhorse variety. A spread of maturities will also allow you to stagger your harvest schedule and take maximum advantage of your available equipment, plus reduce losses in yield (for example, shattering) and end-use quality (for example, weathering).
Complement with different genetic families.
Varieties with closely related genetic backgrounds can often be susceptible to the same diseases and production stresses. You can lower these risks by selecting varieties that share 50% or less common parentage with your workhorse variety and each other.
A list of varieties that do not complement a specific variety, that is they are noncomplementary, are listed in each variety description presented in the virtual tour. You should try to minimize the planting of varieties that are noncomplementary to each other.