MSU Wheat Program releases wheat performance trial results

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

The MSU Wheat Program is proud to announce the release of the 2020 Wheat Performance Trial Results. Farmers need scientifically based data about variety performance 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 62 commercial and 51 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: Ingham, Huron, Lenawee, Montmorency (Hillman), Sanilac and Tuscola counties. Data from these trials are presented at the MSU Variety Trials Website at www.varietytrials.msu.edu/wheat.

Fall planting conditions were variable. Three of our sites were planted in September on prevent plant ground, with the last site being planted on October 20. The early planted sites emerged quickly and reached 2-6 tillers last fall. Two sites were added: one to the south (Wood County, OH) and one to the north (Montmorency County, MI - Hillman). Heavy rainfall followed by extended ponding at Lenawee, Wood County and Gratiot caused significant damage to the trials and data were therefore not published from these locations. Sanilac County produced as much as 6-8 tillers in the fall; this, combined with high seeding rate (2.0 mil seeds per acre) and excess nitrogen uptake resulted in severe lodging pressure. Some varieties that normally do not lodge did not remain standing. The lodging data was collected and reported from this location.

Heavy rainfall last fall in central Michigan delayed soybean and drybean harvest, resulting in lower acreage of wheat being planted. Farmers in this area were evaluating if spring wheat could fill the void and provide straw and a place to spread manure in July. Spring temperatures across the state were unusually cool, which helped late planted wheat to tiller out. Several late season killing frosts in second week of May caused some leaf discoloration, but overall had little impact on yields since most of the wheat was at Feekes 5 to 6 (growing point at or just below soil surface). The weather suddenly changed to hot and dry in late June and July with eight days in a row above 90 degrees F at Mason (Table 1). When temperatures go above 85 F, grain fill slows and when it reaches 90 F, grain fill is shut down and 100% of photosynthates are used to cool the plant. Some parts of Michigan were starting to show up on the US Drought Monitor before a storm front with straight line winds came through bringing much needed rainfall, but causing some severe lodging in a few fields. 2020 brought hot and dry weather which shortened the grain fill period, reducing yield potential.

 Overall, the quality of the wheat crop was good. There were little or no reports of vomitoxin problems and falling numbers were generally above 300. However, there were a few loads of wheat rejected in the Thumb area of Michigan for stinking smut. Reports of wheat yields across the state have been variable, ranging from the low 70’s to 130 bushels per acre with sandy soils taking the biggest hit during the hot, dry period. The northern location, Hillman, did quite well with a trial average of 109.2 bushels per acre. This goes to show that high yields can be achieved even at northern climates.

 Table 1. Number of days above 90 F, 85 F and rainfall data from Michigan Automated Weather Station Network, MSU for three of the MSU Wheat Variety Trial Locations for the 2019 and 2020 growing seasons.

 

2019

2020

 

Pigeon

Richville

Mason

Pigeon

Richville

Mason

Above 90 F

1

3

3

10

13

10

Above 85 F

14

12

16

30

33

30

April (in)

3.8

2.3

2.9

2.2

2.1

2.6

May (in)

2.8

5.0

3.4

3.3

3.8

4.2

June (in)

3.6

7.0

4.5

1.9

1.4

5.8

July (in)

1.9

2.4

2.3

2.8

3.2

2.1

If you have any questions about the report, please direct them to Dennis Pennington at pennin34@msu.edu.

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