LANSING, MI -- Results of the 2015 Michigan State University Wheat Performance Trials have just been published, and farmers will want to review results before making purchasing decisions for this fall's planting. After three years of high-management trials in Michigan, some significant evidence has begun to emerge that points to yield increases.
The MSU wheat research team has planted wheat varietal trial plots for over 15 years, currently at seven locations in five counties (three in Ingham County). Test sites are located on private farmland in Huron, Lenawee, Sanilac and Tuscola counties.
At five sites the wheat trials are under a high-management system; the scab nursery and the "control" site in Ingham County were under conventional practices. All high-management trials were funded by the Michigan Wheat Program.
High-management trials included an additional 30 pounds of 28 percent nitrogen per acre. Quilt was applied at Feekes stage 8.5-9, and Prosaro was applied to control fungal diseases at about the average flowering date in each location. Ninety-six varieties were tested, including 32 experimental lines.
"The results from the high management variety trials have been very telling," said Dave Milligan, chairman of the check-off program and wheat farmer from Cass City. "It is no wonder why growers are adopting high management, which they are."
"The results of the high-management trials, initiated and funded by the Michigan Wheat Program, have moved from interesting to rather compelling. The data coming off the high-management plots is very exciting," said Jody Pollok-Newsom, the program's executive director. "Wheat farmers should consider these results, along with input costs to make the decisions that make the most sense for their farming operation. The check-off is reviewing a proposal at its meeting next week to fund these plot trials again in 2016, as part of our research portfolio."
"The Michigan Wheat Program's board has also invested significantly in other research projects that are fine-tuning high-management practices, and we've featured high management in all of our educational programs," said Pollok-Newsom.
Data on the 2015 trials is posted at www.miwheat.org, the website of the Michigan Wheat Program at the top of the "What's Hot" box. The site also includes 2014 and 2013 MSU wheat variety trials – and a link to data from 2012 and prior years.
Michigan State researchers recommend that farmers use at least three years of data to make decisions about varieties. Varietal trials provide the opportunity to compare data on dozens of varieties on multiple sites, which may have experienced different weather conditions.
According to MSU wheat breeder Eric Olson, the 2015 winter wheat crop got off to a slow start last summer due to a cool, rainy summer that delayed soybean harvest. However, a cool fall and mostly abundant rainfall this spring provided optimal growing conditions, especially during grain fill. The rainy weather mostly went away providing ideal conditions for harvest in most of Michigan. At this point, the grain appears sound with generally high falling numbers. Despite moist conditions through June, it appears that levels of DON have been lower than expected.
Specific results from the 2015 trials show that the five high-management sites had anywhere from 112.4 bushels/acre in Sanilac County to 82.3 bushels/acre in Lenawee County. The control (conventional) plot had 69.5 bushels/acre, a slight decrease over 2014. Comparing the high-management and conventional-management plots in Mason, the average yield per bushel increased 20.5 percent with a slightly higher test weight and slightly less grain moisture at harvest.
The Michigan Wheat Program is funded by nearly 8,000 farmers who grow wheat in 50 of Michigan's 83 counties. The Michigan Wheat Program board seeks to promote the state's wheat industry by funding and supporting the strategic priorities of wheat farmers working with input suppliers, seed producers, millers, end users and consumers. Research on wheat production practices and grower education has been an early priority for the organization.
Information about Michigan's wheat industry is found at www.miwheat.org, or by calling 888-WHEAT01 (888-943-2801).