Repeated freezes in late March to early May affected both producers and wheat variety trials, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Agronomist Calvin Trostle at Lubbock.
“No single issue or time in my career as an agronomist has taught me so much so fast or made me feel I had so much more to learn,” he says. “Yet, in spite of the freezes, there were individual producers who pulled out a fair crop on some acres.”
Similarly, wheat variety trials were a mixed bag, says Clark Neely, AgriLife Extension statewide small grains specialist at College Station. Many of the variety trials were affected by freeze and drought in 2012-2013, yet results varied from location to location.
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“We are advising producers to pick multiple varieties to spread out their risk, especially when it comes to maturity groups,” Neely says. “That will spread the harvest window and help to offset potential injury from late freezes or heat and drought later in the growing season.”
The damages that occurred due to freeze and drought affected the ranking of some of the wheat varieties that generally appear higher among the wheat team’s top picks, he says.
“Some of the early-maturing varieties were bumped ‘way down the list because they were hit by the freeze, while later varieties were virtually untouched. This single year of data would have had a significant effect on the overall ranking,” Neely says. “We didn’t want to mislead producers by showing them data that didn’t represent the average.”
Jackie Rudd, Texas A&M AgriLife Research wheat breeder at Amarillo, says while limited data from the High Plains results will be published, “Producers should keep previous results at hand for variety selection decisions for 2013.”
Use multiple varieties
Neely says the 2013 data will be used to support their suggestion that producers use multiple varieties, because the data clearly show how some early varieties can be affected by late freeze. However, without late freezes, early varieties may excel over later maturities due to heat and drought during grain fill.
The AgriLife wheat team, using wheat breeding and testing program results, released their annual “Picks List” of wheat varieties across the state.
Trostle says for a wheat variety to be selected for the list, data from multiple locations and at least three years are used. Yield alone is not necessarily the exclusive factor in designating a Picks variety, as factors such as leaf or stripe rust tolerance, greenbug tolerance or drought tolerance can also factor into picking a particular wheat.
“Consistency of production over several years and locations are important,” he says.
The 2013-2014 picks are unchanged from 2012-2013 due to the unreliable results from freeze-damaged trials this spring, according to the team. They recognize that individual wheat varieties may perform differently based on irrigated or dryland conditions and Picks are divided into three groups.
TAM 111, TAM 113, Hatcher, Duster and Winterhawk are Picks for all production conditions in the Texas High Plains, Trostle says.
In addition, TAM 304 performs well in high-input production, whereas TAM 112 — often chosen for its tolerance to both greenbugs and wheat streak mosaic virus — is a good choice for limited irrigation and dryland, though sometimes lodging is a concern with high irrigation. Endurance has been a long-time Pick as a dryland choice, especially in dual-purpose grazing and grain production.
What is the general advantage of Pick varieties? Trostle says, “Over four years, irrigated Picks averaged 11 percent better than the yield of all other tested varieties as a group. In dryland, the Picks advantage was 12 percent.”
For a full report of the High Plains annual Picks discussion, producers may review the report at http://lubbock.tamu.edu .
Using Rolling Plains AgriLife Research wheat variety trial results, Trostle says he and Neely developed a similar Picks list for that region.“Dual purpose wheat — grazing and then grain — as well as disease tolerance have added importance in the Rolling Plains.”
Based on yields alone, where no grazing has been allowed, grain yields for wheat in the Abilene area up to Chillicothe have been highest for Duster, Greer, Jackpot, Ruby Lee and TAMs 112 and 304, Trostle says.
Neely says the Picks in the Blacklands region for hard red winter wheat includes Armour, Iba, Shocker and TAM 304.
“Cedar and Gallaher are new varieties with less years of data but have performed quite well thus far, and producers should continue to monitor their progress in our variety trials,” he says.
For the Blacklands soft red winter wheat variety Picks, Neely says TV8861, USDG 3555, USG 3409, Coker 9700, Pioneer 25R40 would be at the top of the list, but TV 8535 and Pioneer 25R30 have done reasonably well also.
In South Texas, the Picks would include Armour, TAM 304, Shocker, Billings, Santa Fe and Duster.
Neely says a couple side notes are: TAM 401, an awnless wheat, and Fannin should be considered also if grazing is implemented. And while it yields well, some producers have reported the Billings variety has issues with sprouting in the head.