As producers try to put the weather-plagued 2022-2023 wheat crop behind them and prepare for the next season, Texas A&M AgriLife agronomists from the High Plains and Rolling Plains are releasing their annual list of top-performing wheat varieties.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M AgriLife Research annual “Top Wheat Picks” list for top-performing varieties is based on a three-year running average and not a single year, taking into account the harsh drought conditions of the past two years.
2022-2023 was tough weather-wise
The 2022-2023 wheat season was hampered by extreme weather events, said AgriLife Extension agronomists Jourdan Bell, Ph.D., Amarillo; Calvin Trostle, Ph.D., Lubbock; and Emi Kimura, Ph.D., Vernon.
Continued drought conditions in fall 2022 resulted in poor planting conditions. While some timely planted fields benefited from late September and early October rainfall, fields quickly dried out. Fields dusted-in, or dry planted, in late October and November, had poor to no stands, and that was followed by another dry winter.
Adding to the injury were sub-zero temperatures in December, resulting in winterkill in most dryland wheat areas. High winds throughout the spring of 2023 resulted in the loss of other wheat fields.
The drought and above-average spring temperatures resulted in a regional forage deficit and strong forage prices. As a result, much of the wheat not lost to drought and wind injury was either grazed or harvested for hay or silage.
Adding to the barrage of weather damage were heavy wheat streak mosaic and barley yellow dwarf virus. Russian wheat aphid pressure also prevailed across much of the Texas High Plains, with reports from north of Lubbock to the Oklahoma line.
Kimura said the Rolling Plains wheat season started with mild soil temperature last fall, with above-average rainfall in October and November. However, dry periods continued through March.
The extreme winter drought and the hot late spring temperatures reduced forage production and the grain yield potential in the Rolling Plains. During the spring growing season, drought conditions did reduce the rust pressure, but when the rains finally came from April to June, they delayed harvest in the region by two to three weeks.
Testing for top varieties under stressful situations
Texas A&M AgriLife experts annually evaluate how wheat varieties grow under adversity and select top performers. Trostle said they examine data from the past years’ wheat variety trials coordinated by the Texas A&M AgriLife Wheat Improvement programs in Amarillo and Bryan-College Station. Variety trial entry fees and the Texas Wheat Producers Board fund these studies.
The agronomists said all “Wheat Picks List” varieties must show stability within their target regions over three years.
This allows for variable growing conditions such as lack of soil moisture at planting, freezing temperatures during early growth and near the onset of the reproductive stage, terminal drought, excessive moisture during the grain-fill stage, and disease and insect pressure, which can affect performance in any growing season. The three-year average provides a more accurate picture of performance, they said.
Also, picks are not necessarily the numerical top yielders. The team considers end-use quality, important disease resistance traits, insect tolerance and standability. This important varietal trait information enables a producer to better manage potential risk.
High Plains, South Plains wheat ‘Picks List’
Wheat grain variety picks are based on the performance of varieties in 18 different trials conducted in 2020-2023 under irrigated and dryland conditions.
— Full Irrigation Picks – TAM 114, TAM 116, TAM 205, WB 4792, CP 7017AX and SY Wolverine.
— Limited Irrigation Picks – TAM 114, TAM 115, TAM 116, TAM 205, WB4792 and CP7017AX.
— Dryland Picks – TAM 113, TAM 116, TAM 205, Canvas and WB4792.
TAM 116 was added to each list this year, but seed availability is extremely limited for the 2023-2024 season, Bell said.
TAM 112 was removed from the 2021-2022 wheat crop list, but it remains a good option for tough dryland conditions. TAM 115 is similar in pedigree and traits to TAM 112, but it does not fare well on tough dryland acres. TAM 115 was removed from the fully irrigated list, but it remains a good option for limited irrigation because it is less susceptible to injury from late spring freezes.
Croplan CP7869 was removed from the current picks list because it was not evaluated in the 2022-2023 trials. Croplan CP7017AX is a new addition to the 2023-2024 irrigated list. It has a strong four-year production history in the High Plains Uniform Variety Trials.
The agronomists also add varieties starting to show promise to a “watch list.” This year, the watch list includes Monarch on the full irrigation and limited irrigation lists and Kivari AX on the limited irrigation and dryland lists.
More in-depth evaluation and a complete discussion of the performance of these varieties is available from AgriLife Extension.
Rolling Plains wheat ‘Picks List’
The grain-only variety picks were selected based on the Texas Rolling Plains Uniform Variety Trial in Hardeman and Haskell counties, while picks for dual-purpose uses were based on trials in Foard, Wilbarger and Haskell counties.
– Grain-only Pick – WB 4792, WB 4595, TAM 115, TAM 205 and SY Bob Dole.
– Dual-purpose Pick – WB 4792, WB 4595, Green Hammer and TAM 205.
Placed on the watch list this year for the Rolling Plains is Dyna-Gro 7322.
More information on variety trial results, including height, rust rating, yields and test weight for each trial site are available at the Texas Rolling Plains agronomy website.
The wheat group for the Texas A&M High Plains region is preparing multi-year tables for grain yield and test weight, irrigated and dryland, Bell said. These tables offer an excellent summary of Pick List performance and demonstrate the yield advantages of Pick varieties vs. all other wheat varieties, which is usually 5% to 8% higher.
For further Texas A&M AgriLife wheat information for the Texas High Plains and statewide, visit the online wheat pages at: https://amarillo.tamu.edu/amarillo-center-programs/agronomy/wheat-publications/ or http://varietytesting.tamu.edu/wheat.