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Wheat survey shows variety top pick statewide

A Texas AgriLife Research-bred wheat, TAM 111, tops the list of varieties selected for planting in Texas, according to a recent survey.

The statewide survey was conducted and data compiled and analyzed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Agricultural Statistical Service Texas field office, at the request of the Texas A&M System’s Small Grains Advisory Committee. The field office worked with Dr. Gaylon Morgan, Texas AgriLife Extension Service small grains specialist in College Station.

Statistics were gathered into statewide totals, as well as by AgriLife Extension districts, Morgan said. Surveys were sent to 2,694 people and 1,815 were completed. The Texas Wheat Producers Board, Texas Foundation Seed, Texas Seed Trade Association, AgriLife Extension and Texas AgriLife Research funded the survey.

The objectives, he said, were to identify key issues facing producers, including mature pest problems, implementation of reduced tillage systems and adoption of new technologies, including new wheat varieties.

This information provides feedback to help researchers and AgriLife Extension personnel direct and better target their research and educational efforts in the future, Morgan said.

“It also gives us a benchmark on the varieties being grown and helps to measure the economic impact of the research and educational programs,” he said. “For instance, TAM 111’s bushel advantage over the others can be multiplied by the number of acres to determine the positive impact of breeding and education to the taxpayers of the state.”

TAM 111 is the most widely grown variety in the state, with the most acres in the Panhandle and South Plains, according to the survey. TAM 111 is a 2003 release by AgriLife Research and licensed to AgriPro Wheat, said Dr. Jackie Rudd, AgriLife Research wheat breeder in Amarillo.

It generally takes about two years after a variety is released for a significant amount of certified seed to be available to producers, Rudd said.

“This survey shows that producers are using the new varieties and adopting better management strategies,” he said. “Even with the unpredictable Texas environment, wheat yield is increasing at a rate of about 1 percent per year in Texas. Improved genetics (new varieties) accounts for about half of these gains, while improved management explains the other 50 percent.”

The last wheat variety survey was conducted in 2005 and showed TAM 105 and TAM 110 as the No. 1 and No. 2 varieties grown in the High Plains, said Dr. John Sweeten, AgriLife Research center director in Amarillo and chair of the small-grains advisory committee, which is a partnership between industry and academia.

The new survey shows TAM 111 and TAM 112 are the most widely grown in the High Plains, and TAM 110 and TAM 105 are third and fourth, respectively, Sweeten said. TAM 112 is a 2005 release by AgriLife Research and licensed to Watley Seed Co. of Spearman.

“We knew we were selling a lot of 111 and 112, so that wasn’t as much of a surprise as the amount of TAM 105 that is still being planted,” said Dr. Brent Bean, AgriLife Extension agronomist in Amarillo.

TAM 105 dropped from 22 percent of all wheat acreage statewide in 2005 to 5 percent in the latest survey. Released in the mid-1970s, it doesn’t have the yield potential and disease resistance as some of the newer varieties, Bean said, but producers may be using it primarily for grazing purposes, where those traits aren’t as important.

He said about 50 percent of the wheat acreage is planted for dual-purpose (grazing and grain) or forage only, which is lower than the 75 percent estimate of wheat grazed at one time or another.

Something else revealed by the survey is more certified seed is being purchased, Bean said. This should improve overall quality of the seed being planted, which will translate into higher yields.

Steve Brown, director of Texas Foundation Seed, said if producers haven’t looked at some of the newer varieties in the last several years, they should.

“TAM 112 typically has a 10 percent yield boost over TAM 110 and contains the same type of greenbug resistance that TAM 110 has,” Brown said.

“For producers who like a beardless wheat, TAM 401 is the newest beardless release,” he said. “It has good early fall forage production, good disease resistance and much better grain production capabilities in a dual-purpose system than most other beardless wheats in the marketplace currently.”

According to the survey, producers make their crop management decisions based on past performance, other farmers’ experience and AgriLife Extension information.

“Almost two-thirds of the producers said they were using AgriLife Extension information when it came time to make decisions on wheat, and almost 90 percent of those responding in the Panhandle said they use our expertise for pest management decisions,” Bean said.

The survey also helped researchers identify some of the characteristics producers deemed most important for improvement. Across the state, drought tolerance, grain yield potential, disease tolerance and insect resistance were identified as key areas.

They identified the most troublesome "pests" as leaf rust and mosaic viruses; insects such as greenbugs; and weeds, primarily mustard, and in the Panhandle, field bindweed.

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