The last but certainly not the least consideration of wheat producers is variety selection. Before discussing the topic, please make a note of the following webpages for information on wheat varieties.
1. The 2015 Wheat Performance Test results may be found here: http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=299&pubId=19059. This information is also an insert in the High Plains Journal and will be available at local extension offices soon.
2. Detailed information on wheat disease and insects ratings may be found here: http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=299&pubId=1564. Some of this is also in the publication in number 1.
3. Although the information isn’t replicated and cannot be statistically analyzed, local extension agents put out wheat demonstration plots and the information may be found by contacting your local office.
The K-State information is useful, especially disease and insect ratings, however, depending upon your location there may be no performance test data that is obtained under conditions of your area. It is still useful in a general sense.
The upside is that options for varieties are slowly improving and including better drought and heat tolerance as well as pest resistance. And long-term, the research at K-State promises improved rust and disease resistance. There isn’t space for great detail here but there are some rules of thumb that are helpful.
• If using binrun seed have it cleaned. If not grazing, strongly consider a seed treatment for disease and insect problems, especially if you are aware of problems in the field such as wireworm or diseases on the head during the 2015 harvest.
• When planting significant acreage, select several varieties adapted to the area to spread risk. Use your own experience and variety data from more than one year if it is available. The idea is to select wheat varieties with varying traits so at least one will do well. While popularity goes up and down, some producers use blends of several wheat varieties to help produce an acceptable yield. It’s not always easy since you need to select varieties with fairly similar maturities and yet different characteristics. Stagger planting dates of similar maturity varieties if possible. Again this is to spread risk.
• Look at the disease and insect ratings information and relate that to problems you typically see. Everest is the number one variety by acreage in the middle third of Kansas because of its yield and disease resistance package. This is especially important under conservation tillage situations.
• If planting on acid soils, it is important to carefully examine the tolerance to acid soils and aluminum.
• This probably should have been the first point but knowing your fields and its potential problems, especially diseases and insects is of great value when evaluating potential varieties.
• Lastly, yield is what matters so selecting adapted varieties with the best yield potential for you conditions is the overriding factor. K-State does publish milling and baking characteristics for varieties but unless you can receive a premium for a high quality wheat, yield is the only trait that matters.
The most difficult aspect of all this for farmers is that decisions are based on what happened, not what will happen.