Posted August 15, 2019
Farmers across the state have access to many of the most cutting-edge wheat varieties ever bred. These varieties are all created with performance in mind, so how can producers gain that coveted yield bump when the dozens of varieties at their fingertips are all, by-and-large, on a fairly level playing field? According to Dr. Romulo Lollato, Wheat and Forage Extension Specialist at Kansas State University, the genetics of all the newest varieties have improved to the point where agronomic practices now have an even greater influence on yield than variety selection does.
“I think we are at the point where we have so many excellent varieties that we don’t have to be quite as picky. There are a lot of really good options, so we have to look at management, as well,” said Lollato. “That’s what the last 19 years of data that we have collected is telling us — that management practices are very, very important.”
According to this data, management accounts for 44-77% of yield variation. Because of this large yield gap, Lollato says, “It is time to manage wheat.”
To no one’s surprise, region and irrigation make the top of the list for yield producing management practices, but application of foliar fungicide and sowing date are also incredibly important for both irrigated and dryland farmers. The largest yield drag was dual-purpose wheat used for grazing.
Lollato and his team have also found that seed treatments (like insecticides and fungicides) have a higher yield bump in good seasons, while foliar fungicides are beneficial in all seasons, but have more yield gain in those higher yielding seasons. Micronutrient applications have had a negligible bump during high performing years, while they have a monster gain of 9.7 bushels per acre during low performance years.
In the central region, if you’re planning on applying fungicide, look for medium to late heading, drought tolerance, acid soil tolerance and medium to short height. With no fungicide application, those high yielding traits are stripe rust tolerance, leaf rust tolerance, fall grazing potential, early heading date and drought tolerance.
These projects were funded by the Kansas Wheat Commission and the Kansas Wheat Alliance. For more information on these research projects and others, please visit kansaswheat.org and kswheatalliance.org.