January 06, 2020

Power in Numbers

Planting multiple wheat varieties can help grow your bottom line

By Grant Mehring, Northern Region Technical Product Manager, WestBred® Wheat

Which is better: planting one variety across all of my wheat acres, or planting two, three or more varieties?

Should I choose a “best-in-class” variety for yield, protein, straw strength, Fusarium Head Blight (Scab) resistance or resistance to Bacterial Leaf Streak — or balance several of these traits?

In theory, these questions may seem obvious, but often they aren’t put into practice on the farm. When it comes to variety selection, the goal is clear: pick the variety that will increase profitability of your wheat acreage, above all else.

Choosing the single best variety — with a single best-in-class trait — is intuitive for many. What could go wrong when you pick the best variety? But there are problems with choosing a “single best” variety. The environment or growing season may not favor the variety’s best attributes like it did last year — in which case, you can lose big.

When it comes to choosing a variety, I have several simple, but important, tips to offer:

1.     Select two, three or more different varieties

2.     Choose varieties that are average to above-average in several key categories

3.     Consult a trusted agronomic adviser (or ask other growers in your area) for local, firsthand insights into a variety’s performance

With this approach to variety selection, your choices will have the best chance to weather some weather downside (pun intended) and to really capitalize on the upside.

I often recommend northern wheat growers consider the balanced attributes of WB9479, WB9590, and WB9719. But whichever you choose, selecting the right varieties to plant on your farm is critical (and even fun!), and I hope you’ll apply this information in practice.

For additional tips on varietal selection, contact Grant Mehring at grant.mehring@bayer.com.