Yield should be the most important consideration when selecting a wheat variety, says Texas AgriLife Extension entomologist Chris Sansone.

“Disease resistance is the second priority, followed by insect tolerance,” Sansone said at a recent Big Country Wheat Conference in Abilene.

Growers should plant three or four varieties to spread production risks.

Sansone said insect resistance is a bit limited. “We don’t have one variety that is ideal for both greenbug and Hessian fly. Duster and Tam 112 are good on greenbug.”

Until more resistant varieties come along Sansone suggests seed treatments to reduce insect damage. “Seed treatment costs have come down to the point where we need to consider them,” he said. “High production wheat farmers are using them to manage risk.”

He said Gaucho and Cruiser are both available. “Read the label and follow directions. The rate is important.”

He also recommends that if farmers plant wheat early, in September, they should consider using seed treatments. Target insects include aphids, white grubs, and Hessian fly suppression.

He said seed treatments are not a panacea and may not help control all insects.

He recommends delayed planting, after mid-October, to reduce exposure to insect pests.

Sansone also recommends that farmers consider the wheat production system—grazing only, dual purpose, or grain only—when deciding on planting date for best insect management. “For grazing and dual purpose, early planting is mid-October,” he said. That planting date gets wheat started in time for a longer grazing period.” But planting too early gains nothing,”  he said, “because wheat is more vulnerable to disease and insect pressure.”

For grain production, he recommends late October through Thanksgiving, in the Texas Rolling Plains. “There is no point to planting earlier. Late planting limits exposure to insect and disease cycles.”

Sansone said growers should consider variety trials, in multiple years and in multiple locations to choose varieties for planting.

Other planting recommendations include:

  • Start clean with a clean field and no green material.
  • Plant in a firm seedbed.
  • Break the green bridge to limit damage from such pests as greenbugs, armyworms, and wheat mosaic virus.