Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Choosing a Crop Variety

Kari Lewis

This week, Montana State University announced the release of two new winter wheat varieties from their Foundation Seed Program.  The Bobcat and Flathead varieties will be released this fall to produce registered and certified seed through certified growers across Montana and then should be available for purchase by the public between the 2020 and 2021 growing seasons. 
Ray and Fourosix, which were announced last spring, are now available for the public.  Ray is MSU’s  new forage variety and FourOsix is the new grain variety.  Both are resistant to stripe rust.  Ray is an awnless livestock forage variety that is intended to replace Willow Creek as it is bred for dual use as a forage and cereal grain crop with a much higher seed yield than Willow Creek. 
Ray, an awnless forage variety set to
replace Willow Creek Winter Wheat,
growing in July, 2019 on a research
plot north of Cut Bank.  Photo by
Kari Lewis.

Fourosix is intended to replace the Yellowstone variety which has been well known for it’s high yield and milling and baking qualities, but FourOsix is has a higher test weight and grain protein than Yellowstone.    

As many producers are making planting decisions this fall and next spring, I wanted to remind folks of the tremendous amount of data that our local MSU Extension research stations have available on numerous varieties.  Locally, we have the WesternTriangle Ag Research Center, just east of the Valier exit, and also the NorthernAg Research Center at Havre.  In addition to the on-station trials, off-station trails are completed as well.  For example, the Western Ag Research Center has plots at Choteau, north of Cut Bank, near Devon, and near the Knees in Choteau County.  These stations conduct trials on to determine which wheat varieties best fit our local environment.  This data is also compiled with the other research centers at Kalispell, Moccasin, Bozeman, Huntley, Sidney, and Willison, ND for statewide data. 

For each wheat variety, their reports list grain yield, test weight, heading dates, plant height, sawfly cutting percentage, and protein percent.  You can then narrow in on which traits are especially important to your farm and select the right variety for you.  There's variety data for winter wheat, spring wheat, durum wheat, barley, canola, and pulse crops.  

If you have any questions on locating these reports or variety trial testing, please be sure to contact the research center or your local Extension office.

Research plots managed by the Western Triangle Ag Research
Center out of Conrad that are conducted north of Cut Bank for
local Glacier county data.  Photo by Kari Lewis.

John Miller (WTRAC agronomist), pictured in the white cap
conducts the variety trials for WTRAC and is happy to share data
and experiences with local producers at field days.  Photo by
Kari Lewis.