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New Cowboy ridin’ high

Cowboy is the name; seed is the game.


Cowboy is the name; seed is the game.

This new hard red winter wheat is already making a name for itself in Wyoming, western Nebraska, and portions of Montana and Colorado.

“Cowboy’s pretty much been at the top of our eastern Wyoming trials since we started testing in 2010,” says Jerry Nachtman, a research associate at the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station. “On average, Cowboy has outperformed the other varieties by 1.3 bushels per acre. Overall, it has led everything.”

He says many farmers are taking note of Cowboy because it outperformed Buckskin, a mainstay winter wheat since the 1980s. “Cowboy has yielded 10% to 15% more than Buckskin at our on-farm trials and at [the University of Wyoming Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center],” says Nachtman, who’s stationed at the Extension center near Lingle.

“Cowboy is very adapted to our growing conditions, both dryland and irrigated, and we believe a lot of producers are going to be interested in adopting the variety into their programs,” he adds.

“A lot of farmers are interested in Cowboy, and we hope Mother Nature cooperates with seed production,” says Keith Kennedy, executive director of the Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission. The group worked with the University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, the Crop Research Foundation of Wyoming and the Colorado Wheat Research Foundation to bring on-farm trials to Wyoming.

Cowboy and a sister variety, Denali, were developed by a team led by CSU wheat breeder Scott Haley, whose research focuses on the genetic improvement of hard red and hard white winter varieties for yield and quality. His team’s research also examines the stresses prevalent in the central and southern Great Plains, such as disease, insects and weather.

Denali was released jointly by CSU and Kansas State University, based on superior grain yield under dryland and irrigated trials in Colorado and western Kansas.

Haley’s team believes some varieties it developed (including Cowboy) that didn’t perform as well in the Colorado–Kansas trials might be winners in eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska because of the different growing conditions, including elevation, winter and spring moisture, and summer heat. That proved true for Cowboy.

“Cowboy is at the top of both the state dryland and irrigated variety trials in Wyoming on a three-year average,” Haley says. “It seems to be especially well-adapted in Wyoming.”


FIELD MAN: Colorado State University wheat breeder Scott Haley and a team of researchers have developed wheat varieties that are performing extremely well in Colorado, Wyoming, western Kansas, western Nebraska and parts of Montana.

This article published in the July, 2014 edition of WESTERN FARMER-STOCKMAN.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2014.

Plant Breeding

Photo by Dan Bihn/CSU Ventures, courtesy CSU

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