By Kay Ledbetter
Planted wheat acres were down in 2018-2019 in the Texas Panhandle, but it was still a learning year, according to experts with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
It offered a mixed bag of conditions with record wheat yields, waterlogged fields resulting in reduced yields and shriveled, low test weight grain and many fields were either hailed out or severely damaged by hail.
“Because it was an extreme production season for wheat farmers and across our variety trials, it was a very good year to evaluate wheat varieties,” said Dr. Jourdan Bell, AgriLife Extension agronomist, Amarillo.
Each year Bell and Dr. Calvin Trostle, AgriLife Extension agronomist, Lubbock, join with Dr. Jackie Rudd, AgriLife Research wheat breeder, Amarillo, to provide wheat producers across the High Plains their “Top Picks” list for varieties with the highest potential before planting time.
The summaries are derived from wheat variety trials coordinated by the Texas A&M AgriLife wheat improvement program in Amarillo, with funding provided by variety trial entry fees as well as the Texas Wheat Producers Board.
“Across the Texas High Plains, much of the early wheat for grazing or dual-purpose production was drilled into good soil moisture,” Bell said. “This resulted in good stands and good early forage production.”
However, she said, the rain stopped at the end of fall, late wheat was sowed in dry, and winter drought resulted in many producers pulling cattle off dryland wheat pasture early due to a lack of forage. Late spring rain resulted in excellent recovery of the wheat, except in the eastern and northeastern Panhandle where rain and hailstorms resulted in significant waterlogging and hail injury to wheat fields.
Planted wheat acres for grain were down because of increased cotton acres as well as increased acreage planted for wheatlage, Bell said. However, in some areas the wheatlage was not chopped as fields were too wet, and much of the intended wheatlage went to grain.
In the western and southwestern Panhandle, cool conditions and ideal precipitation resulted in dryland yields approaching 80 bushels per acre on some fields; however, the regional average was approximately 40 bushels per acre. Irrigated wheat ranged from 70 to 100 bushels per acre depending on irrigation capacity and precipitation timing and amount. This region was also hit by scattered hailstorms that affected wheat on some fields, she said.
Continuing a long-time tradition, ongoing Picks criteria include a minimum of three years of irrigated or dryland data in Texas A&M AgriLife regional variety trials across numerous annual locations.
“A Pick variety can be described as: Varieties that we would choose to include and emphasize on our farm for wheat grain production given the three-year performance and variety characteristics,” Trostle said.
Picks are not necessarily the numerical top yielders as end-use quality, important disease resistance traits – leaf or stripe rust resistance, wheat streak mosaic virus tolerance; insect tolerance – greenbugs, Russian wheat aphid, wheat curl mite, Hessian fly; or standability can also be important varietal traits that enable a producer to better manage potential risk, he said.
“Varieties placed on our Watch List show promise but have insufficient data, sometimes we only have two years available to make a conclusion,” Trostle said.
Picks for the Texas High Plains are based on yield performance and consistency over 34 multi-year, multi-site irrigated and dryland trials harvested from 2015-2019.
Full Irrigation Picks – TAM 113, TAM 114, Croplan CP7869, Syngenta SY Monument and Westbred Winterhawk.
Limited Irrigation Picks – TAM 112, TAM 113, TAM 114, CP7869, SY Monument and Winterhawk.
Dryland – TAM 112, TAM 113, TAM 114, CP7869, LCS Mint, WB4721 and T158.
Watch List – TAM 205 and TAM 115 to all three categories, and LongBranch to dryland.
Drought tolerance and resistance to the wheat curl mite, which provides tolerance to wheat streak mosaic virus, keeps TAM 112 on the limited irrigated and dryland lists, Rudd said. However, TAM 112, unlike most of the other Picks, is susceptible to leaf and stripe rust, and is also susceptible to lodging under high irrigation and high nitrogen, so is not recommended for full irrigation.
TAM 113 remains on the list because of solid grain performance, forage potential and ability to emerge under stressful conditions, he said. It has moderate resistance to stripe and leaf rusts. Likewise, TAM 114 remains strong with good yields and a solid rust-resistance package, and is a common replacement for TAM 111, which was removed from the Picks list two years ago due to increasingly inconsistent performance.
Winterhawk, WB4721 and LCS Mint have continued to perform well for more than four years in Texas High Plains production, Rudd said. Dyna-Gro Long Branch will remain on the watch list. It has a good grain yield potential, but milling properties are not as good as other varieties and test weights are below average. T158 remains on the dryland list because of continued good performance under dryland conditions.
“We often receive inquiries about TAM 204, also,” he said. “Although it is not on the Picks list because of marginal bread-making quality, TAM 204 is the most popular ‘beardless’ variety. It is especially valuable because it can be used for grazing alone, grazing and grain, and unlike varieties with awns, it can be grazed-out.”
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