Typically, wheat growers will keep back enough of their wheat seed to plant again, but also they might be looking to replace a variety in an effort to reduce seed-borne diseases, and to improve genetics for yield and disease prevention.

Each year, many county agents put out wheat variety demonstration plots and conduct field days to view and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of varieties and wheat production issues. Most demonstration plots also are harvested for yield information to assist farmers.

The Cottonwood Extension District Ellis County no-till wheat demonstration plot has no fallow in the cropping rotation; therefore, it is intensively cropped each year. There might have been some problems with fertilizer uptake after it was top-dressed this year. It was not sprayed with a fungicide. For further details of the cultural practices of the demonstration plot, visit www.ellis.ksu.edu and click onto the Crops and Livestock tab.

I would encourage growers to also refer to the K-State Research station replicated wheat performance tests; replicated trials accounts or smooths out the variability within a field, and thus are more accurate. That information also can be found on the website on the Crops and Livestock page under Hot Topics. FHSU had a demonstration wheat plot on the university farm as well.

The graph includes K-State Agriculture Research stations performance tests for northwest Kansas dryland — which consists of Colby, Tribune, Decatur County and Hays. The Decatur County test was abandoned due to uneven and late emergence, and the Hays test also was abandoned due to hail and high wind. It strictly looks at the two- and three-year yield averages for Colby and Tribune, and this is in no particular order. Oakley CL, Tatanka, Grainfield, TAM 114, Langin and Joe (white wheat) all have yielded consistently well. Two other varieties that had good yield averages were LCS Pistol and Long Branch.

Yield should not be the only consideration in your selection. Some other important considerations are stripe and leaf rust resistance, wheat streak mosaic resistance, drought tolerance, winter hardiness, straw strength, shattering reputation and test weight. Each grower might differ some in what is most important to them and might add other considerations not mentioned. A good resource is the “Wheat Variety Disease and Insect Ratings 2017” publication. It also is posted on our website with the plot results.

Stacy Campbell is a Kansas State Research and Extension agent in Hays for the Cottonwood Extension District Office.