The 2012-2013 growing season was not business as usual for soft red winter wheat production in the Northern Texas Blacklands.  Dry fall conditions allowed growers to plant all intended wheat acres, but rainfall ceased on October 13 and we did not receive another significant rain until Christmas day.  The Christmas rain was uniform across the region, and the vernalization process on the late planted and unemerged wheat started at that time.

Fortunately, we experienced cooler than normal conditions throughout the winter and spring, and all of the wheat vernalized and produced grain. Three freezes in March set back the early planted wheat and killed the main stem in the early maturing varieties.  Wheat injured by the freeze compensated by producing an excellent tiller crop, which in most cases, compensated for loss of the main stem.  The wheat that emerged following the Christmas rain surprised everyone and produced excellent yields, some rivaling last year’s record yields.  A cool spring and longer grain filling period allowed the late emerged wheat to mature ahead of the usual hot, dry spring and early summer temperatures. 

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Growers in Northeast Texas were successful with both early and late maturity groups this year.  The freezes were not as damaging to the early varieties as we originally anticipated, and weather conditions allowed a long enough grain filling period to maximize yields of the later maturing varieties.  Most growers averaged around 70 bushels per acre, and some averaged over 80 bushels across their entire acreage.  Several growers reported yields in excess of last year’s record yields.

The dominant fungal disease in 2013 was leaf rust (Puccinia recondita), common in the mid-South, and occurs at damaging levels in this region on a regular basis.   Leaf rust had a damaging effect on almost all commercial varieties across the region, and a foliar fungicide was very profitable in all of our foliar fungicide trials this year.

None of the experiments in this summary were sprayed with a foliar fungicide.  This phase of our program is intended to measure genetic resistance to foliar plant diseases.  We will address foliar fungicides and their profitability in an additional publication to be released later this year.

This paper is divided into two sections.  The first will address the performance and characteristics of soft red winter wheat varieties (SRWWs) in this region.  The second section is a summary of the performance of soft red winter wheat varieties in comparison with selected hard red winter wheat varieties (HRWWs).  A significant focus of this research program is to search for HRWWs that are competitive in yield with SRWWs.  Competitive HRWWs would be attractive to growers because they usually have a price advantage over SRWWs.

In 2012-2013, we planted studies in three locations: Royse City, Bailey, and Howe.  Unfortunately, we experienced an excessive amount of freeze damage at our Royse City location, which compromised our yield data.  Therefore, only information from the Bailey and Howe locations are discussed here.  We harvested the variety trials from the Royse City location but are not reporting them as the freeze put the early maturing varieties at a significant disadvantage.  All of the wheat in the Royse City location emerged in November, and the tiller crop did not compensate for the main stem loss in this location.