MSU Wheat Program releases wheat performance trial results

Farmers can use data from these trials when selecting wheat varieties to plant on their farm.

Wheat performance trials.

The MSU Wheat Program is proud to announce the release of the 2018 Wheat Performance Trial Results. Farmers need scientifically based data about variety performance in order to make good decisions about what varieties to plant on their farm. This report contains a wealth of information to assist them.

This year, the program evaluated 61 commercial and 49 experimental varieties from 13 organizations including MSU, Michigan Crop Improvement Association and seed companies. Varieties were planted in replicated small plots at six locations across the state: Allegan, Clinton, Huron, Lenawee, Sanilac and Tuscola counties. Data from these trials are presented at the MSU Variety Trials Website.

Fall planting conditions were excellent before mid-October with much of the acreage being planted early due to early soybean and dry bean harvest. Rains held up planting the remainder of the crop until close to November. The wheat crop overwintered well and we went into June with excellent ratings and a USDA forecasted yield of 93 bushel per acre. Disease pressure was low or non-existent.

Early in the spring, crop development was four to seven days behind last year, but quickly caught up with higher temperatures in May and June. The onset of grain fill coincided with very hot and dry weather (Figure 1). Physiologically, wheat prefers cool temperatures – especially during grain fill. As temperature goes above 82 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant is no longer able to perform normal photosynthesis and accumulation of starches for grain fill. Above 85 F the plant is using all of its energy for respiration (translocation of water from roots through stomates in the leaves) to keep the plant cool.

Dry soil conditions prevent normal respiration resulting in reduced grain fill period causing lower yields and smaller seed size. The mean yield across all varieties across all locations was 83.1 bushels per acre, well below the forecasted record yield. This was due primarily to the hot and dry weather conditions.

Figure 1. Temperature and rainfall data from Michigan Automated Weather Station Network, MSU for four of the MSU Wheat Variety Trial Locations.






Days 90 F +





Days 85 F +





May (in)





June (in)





July (in)





Yields were variable across the state with some areas reporting above average yields, while other areas reported below average. Overall, vomitoxin levels were low with a few pockets where 2 ppm was reached. Falling numbers, which is an indicator of preharvest sprouting was high – which is good. Generally test weights were high in the 60 to 62 range with just a few reports of low test weight.

If you have any questions about the report, please direct them to Dennis Pennington at

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