Blends of two to three wheat varieties have become increasingly popular over the past 10 years in Kansas, according to recent wheat variety acreage reports from Kansas Agricultural Statistics.
That´s not surprising to Kansas State University agronomist Jim Shroyer. Blends have some advantages in many situations, he said.
"Blends can offer producers some yield stability in most cases," said Shroyer, who is a crop production specialist with K-State Research and Extension. "While any one variety may do much better or worse than other varieties in the same vicinity, having a blend of two or three varieties can usually even out those ups and downs. This reduces the chances of having a landlord upset because the variety planted on his or her land yielded considerably less than other fields in the area."
Blends have some disadvantages, as well, he added.
"Blends are unlikely to result in the highest yields possible in any given year," Shroyer said. "And blends do not provide the same level of management flexibility as a pure variety."
The K-State 2007-08 Wheat Variety Performance Test included several blends. In most cases, the yield of the blend was close to the average yield of the components in the blend. The interesting factor to look at is the range of yields among the components, he said.
"A good example is Brown County in 2008," he noted. "The blend of Overley, Post Rock, and Santa Fe, yielded 49. The average of each of those three varieties grown separately is 50. But the range of yields is 43 (Overley) to 53 (Post Rock and Santa Fe). There´s no way to know for sure ahead of time which of those three varieties would do best last season. If a producer had grown just Overley, the yield would have been 6 bushels less than the yield of the blend."
This illustrates the primary value of planting a blend. A blend takes some of the guesswork out of selecting varieties, he explained.
For complete details on the 2008 K-State Wheat Performance Test results, see: http://kscroptests.agron.ksu.edu/pdf/2008Wheat.pdf.