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Wheat test results ready

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By David Harrison

 It is likely more wheat will be planted this fall as result of the drought and poor corn crop. 

As growers select their varieties, they should consider results of the University of Kentucky Small Grain Variety Performance Test. In the 2011-12 growing season, 100 wheat varieties were evaluated in six locations across Kentucky.

The nearest location to LaRue County was the Steucker farm in Hardin County. In addition to evaluating the wheat varieties for yield, the test also evaluated other characteristics such as test weight, heading date, plant height, winter hardiness, lodging and disease incidence. Additional tests measured wheat variety differences in post-grain harvest straw yields, and differences in forage yields. 

A thorough evaluation of variety characteristics allows producers to select a group of top yielding varieties and then base variety selection on other traits important to their production system, such as maturity date, disease resistance, plant height and forage or straw yield potential.

Because weather, soil and other factors may alter varietal performance from one location to another, these tests are annually conducted in multiple locations throughout the state. It is best to use multiple year data from multiple locations to draw conclusions.

A single year data from one test location should not be used for variety selection. This year, for example, an early crop and freeze affected yields, to varying degrees, across the state. The publication offers a statewide summary of variety performance across all tests over a one-, two- or three-year period. 

Varieties that perform well across locations and years are more likely to perform well across all growing conditions.

The publication containing the test result information is UK Publication PR-640, 2012 Kentucky Small Grain Performance Variety Test. It is available at the Extension Service office on Old Elizabethtown Road and online at www.uky.edu/ag/wheatvarietytest/.

UK also has variety testing programs for corn, soybeans, alfalfa and other forages.