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.

Performance Summary

A summary of performance of selected soft red winter wheat varieties in Bailey, Texas for 2013:

USG 312O, 91.5 bushel per acre yield, 50 pounds per bushel test weight; Syngenta Coker 9553, 89.4 bushels and 59.4 pounds; AGS 2035, 88 bushels, 57.4 pounds; USG 3555, 83.3 bushels and 55 pounds; USG 3409, 81 bushels, 55.4 pounds; USG 3209, 75 bushels, 53,4 pounds; USG 3201, 72.4 bushels and 57 pounds; USG 3993, 69.2 bushels, 54.1 pounds; Terral TV8525, 67.4 and 54.5; Pioneer 25R40, 65.8 and 53.8; Terral TV8848, 65.5 and 52.5; Syngenta Harrison, 63.7 and 50.5; Pioneer 25R30, 62.4 and 55.1; Syngenta Oakes, 61.4 and 55.8; Terral TV 8861, 60.9 and 54.9; USG 3251, 60.6 and 53.4; USG 3883, 58.8 and 54.4; Terral TV8535, 58.6 and 51.7; SY 474, 54.5 and 53.9; Pioneer 25R39, 53.3, and 54.6; Syngenta Magnolia, 53.1, and 54.2. Grand Mean average is 68.4 bushels and a test weight of 54.7.

2013 SRWW Highlight Summary

  • The Bailey location was planted on October 30 and harvested on June 13.  Ninety five percent of the wheat did not emerge until mid -January following a general rain on December 25.
  • USG 3120 and AGS 2035 are very early maturing varieties, and showed some freeze damage following the March freezes. Because they emerged so late in this location, they were at an early stage of development when they were exposed to the cold weather in March and escaped significant freeze damage.  We suggest these varieties not be planted before mid– to late November this fall.
  • Leaf rust infection levels were heavy across the region, and most of the varieties sustained damage from this pathogen.  Stripe rust (Puccinia striiformis) infection pressure was very low, except in USG 3993. 
  • Bushel weights were low, likely due to a late season leaf rust infection.
  • Lodging was not a serious problem with the SRWWs at the Bailey location, except in the case of USG 3209

Yield stability is the most important consideration when selecting wheat varieties to plant in northeast Texas.  It is risky to make varietal choices based on one year’s results because weather conditions and disease pressures vary greatly from year to year.  Therefore, performance over a number of years and locations is the best indicator of varietal stability. 

Top Ten

Following is a summary of the top ten performing varieties over a two and three year period from 2011-2013.

Two year, top ten varieties include: USG 3120, AGS 2035, USG 3409, Syngenta Coker 9553, USG 3555, USG 3201, Syngenta Oakes, Pioneer 25R40, Terral 8525, and Syngenta Harrison.

Top ten in a three-year period include: USG 3120, USG 3409, AGS 2035, Terral 8525, Syngenta Coker 9553, USG 3201, Pioneer 25R40, USG 3555, Syngenta Oakes, and USG 3251.

Note:

USG 3120 and AGS 2035 performed very well over the past three years in our harvested studies, but they are the earliest maturing varieties we have seen in a number of years.  Both are earlier maturing than Terral LA 841, a variety that has suffered more than its share of freeze injury over the years.  If planted at our normal time (late October-early November), they are more likely to experience freeze damage than any of the other varieties being grown here.  Both varieties sustained severe freeze damage at our Royse City location this year, and produced low yields. 

Maturity Groups

We have more good SRWW wheat varieties to choose from than ever.  Below is a list of the relative maturities of selected varieties.

Early—USG 3120 and AGS 2035;Medium early— Terral LA 841;Medium— USG 3555, USG 3201, USG 3295, Syngenta Coker 9553, USG 3409, Syngenta Magnolia;Medium Late— Syngenta Oakes, Terral TV 8525; Late— Pioneer 25R30, Pioneer 25R40, Terral TV 8861, USG 3251, Syngenta Harrison.

To hedge against weather risks, it would be advisable to plant multiple varieties from more than one maturity group.  Start by planting the later maturing varieties, and finish with the earlier ones.  The later maturing varieties are less likely to experience freeze damage in March, but are more subject to hot, dry conditions during the grain filling period.  The medium early varieties are at more risk from a late freeze, but will likely experience more favorable weather conditions during the grain filling period. 

Our research over the past 29 years has shown the optimum planting date in Northeast Texas to be the last few days in October through the first week in November.  Planting prior to October 25 is not advisable as it exposes the crop to more potential damage to the Hessian fly, foliar plant diseases, and freeze injury in the spring.  

Early maturing varieties are a good fit for late planting (after November 15), but are more likely to suffer freeze injury when planted at the normal time.  Earlier maturing varieties are better forage producers than later maturing ones, and can be planted earlier if they are grazed.  An effective grazing program will delay their maturity.

Below is a summary of average yields of selected hard and soft red winter wheat varieties in Bailey and Howe, Texas, for 2013:

Armour (HRWW),(average yield for both locations) 83.9 average bushel weight both locations, 58.1; USG 3555 (SRWW), 83.3, 54.2; USG 3120 (SRWW), 83.3, 58.1; AGS 2035 (SRWW), 80.9, 57.4; Syngenta Coker 9553 (SRWW), 80.0, 58.6; Cedar (HRWW), 78.7, 57.5; Gallagher (HRWW), 75.3, 58.8; TAM 305 (HRWW), 71.3, 59.1; Shocker (HRWW), 70.6, 59.1; Terral TV8525 (SRWW), 69.5, 55.1; Syngenta Harrison (SRWW), 68.1, 51.2; Billings (HRWW), 67.5, 59.2; Pioneer 25R40 (SRWW), 67.1, 53.4; Pioneer 25R30 (SRWW), 66.3, 54.9; Terral TV8861 (SRWW), 59.1, 53.6; USG 3251 (SRWW), 58.4, 53.1.

HRWW vs. SRWW Highlight Summary

  • The Bailey location was planted on October 30 and harvested on June 13.  Ninety five percent of the wheat did not emerge until mid-January following a general rain on December 25.  The Howe location was planted on October 23 and harvested on June 14; over 75 percent of the wheat did not emerge until mid-January, following the December 25 rain.  The Royse City location was severely damaged by a freeze in March and the data is not reported in this paper.
  • USG 3120 and AGS 2035 are very early maturing varieties, and showed some freeze damage following the March freezes. We suggest these varieties not be planted before mid to late November.
  • Leaf rust infection levels were heavy across the region, and many of the varieties sustained damage from this pathogen.  Stripe rust (Puccinia striiformis) infection pressure was very low in 2013. 
  • Bushel weights were low in this study, likely due to a late season leaf rust infection.
  • The HRWWs produced an average of three more bushels per acre than the SRWWs.  We suspect this is because, overall, the HRWWs tested displayed better leaf rust resistance than the SRWWs.  Parallel studies showed yield increases ranging from 16 percent to 66 percent where SRWWs were sprayed with a fungicide (tebuconazole). 
  • HRWW bushel weights averaged 3.6 pounds heavier than SRWWs
  • Straw strength in SRWWs was significantly better than HRWWs in both locations.  Lodging issues continue to be the major limitation to the adoption of HRWWs in this region.

 

This work was made possible with funding provided by the Texas Wheat Producers Board, Cereal Crops Research Incorporated (CCRI), and the Agribusiness Industry.

 

More wheat articles of interest:

Texas AgriLife offers ‘Picks’ list on wheat varieties for High Plains…

An IPM approach to managing foliar diseases in Northeast Texas wheat

Wheat planning and planting time not too early to think about price