Selecting the right wheat variety for a specific location, a specific use or to avoid a specific problem may take a little time but will be well worth the effort.

“Variety selection is important,” says Clark Neely, Texas AgriLife Extension small grains specialist, College Station. Neely discussed varieties at the recent Big Country Wheat Conference in Abilene.

“Not all varieties are created equal,” he said to a near-overflow crowd that gathers here every other year to hear the latest on wheat production and pertinent farm issues.

He said varieties offer widely different characteristics in such crucial areas as milling quality, disease resistance, insect tolerance and regional adaptation.

“Genetic yield and test weights are different” among the many varieties available today, he said. “And varieties can perform differently under various production and climatic conditions. Disease and insect tolerance may break down over time.”

That’s why vigorous breeding programs continually look for newer, better varieties. “Growers should look at variety characteristic tables to learn about insect and disease tolerance.” He said the Texas AgriLife variety testing website is a good place to start.

That site offers the latest information on top-yielding varieties, tested across multiple locations and multiple years. Information on disease and insect tolerance—including Hessian fly, green bug and Russian wheat aphid—is available from the site.

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Neely said recent tests also show that some varieties respond with significant yield increases following fungicide applications. Results have shown improvements as high as 19 bushels per acre with a recommended fungicide spray program. Other, more disease resistant varieties may show little to no advantage from fungicide application.