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LANSING, MI --  Michigan wheat farmers working through the Michigan Wheat Program partnered again this year with Michigan State University to add a high-management component to the variety trials. Results of the 2017 Wheat Performance Trials were released by MSU earlier this week.

Farmers will certainly want to study results of the 125 different varieties tested in plots across Michigan before making seed purchasing decisions for planting this fall.  About 40 percent more seed lines were evaluated this year than last by MSU wheat breeder Dr. Eric Olson and his team.

High-management plot comparisons have been part of the Wheat Performance Trials since 2013, when the Michigan Wheat Program board of directors voted to fund the project. The high-management trials continue to show very promising results for over 90 percent of the wheat seed lines being tested.

This year’s Performance Trials include 61 commercial wheat varieties.  In addition, 64 experimental wheat lines were evaluated – up significantly from the 26 experimental seed lines tested last year.  The seed lines were developed by 14 organizations including MSU, Michigan Crop Improvement Association, Virginia Crop Improvement Association and several seed companies.

Five years of high management results. This is the fifth year that the MSU Wheat Performance Trials included high-management plots funded in partnership with the Michigan Wheat Program.  Again this year, high management shows strong promise with the wheat varieties tested.

“The high-management treatment resulted in an average response of 8.6 more bushels per acre across all the varieties we looked at,” commented MSU wheat breeder Dr. Eric Olson.  “Farmers should study individual varieties across all the parameters looked at in the trials including yield, test weight, fusarium head blight resistance, visual sprout, lodging, flower date, percent moisture, other disease conditions, and milling and baking qualities.”

Wheat trial details.  MSU’s wheat research team has planted wheat trial plots for more than 16 years.  During 2016-2017, trials were on private farmland in six counties plus the MSU Pathology Farm in Ingham County.  

This year’s trials were planned to have two farms that had both conventional and high management plots, to create a same-farm comparison.  While this comparison is available for review in Tuscola County, the Clinton County site fell through due to water damage.

Farms hosting the trials included:

• Stuart Bierlein of Reese (Tuscola County-two sites);

• Harvey Jipping of Hamilton (Allegan County);

• Darwin Sneller of Owendale (Huron County);

• Woods Seed Farm of Deerfield (Lenawee County); and

• JGDM Farms of Deckerville (Sanilac County).

Definition of high-management trial.  High-management trials included:

• an additional 30 lbs. of nitrogen per acre (28 percent N);

• Quilt at Feekes stage 8.5-9; and

• Prosaro at average flowering date in each location.

“The Michigan Wheat Program congratulates MSU’s wheat team on such an aggressive trial program this past year,” said David Milligan, chairman of the Michigan Wheat Program and wheat farmer from Cass City.  “While overall wheat yields are down as expected compared with 2016, the high-management results are again very promising.  Every wheat farmer in Michigan should be taking a look at the input costs and increased yields possible under high management, and considering whether it works for their farm.”

“The check-off board will again consider supporting high management treatments for the 2018 Michigan State Wheat Performance Trials at their meeting in a couple of weeks,” said Jody Pollok-Newsom, the program’s executive director.  “There is such a wealth of knowledge in this 27-page report, that I am sure the board will continue its support and remain proud to play a role in advancing knowledge about the future of high management wheat production in Michigan.”

To see the results of the 2017 trials with the 61 commercially-available seed varieties or to see the 2017 results with commercial varieties plus 64 experimental seed lines, go to www.miwheat.org and click on the variety trial information in the “What’s Hot” box. The Michigan Wheat website also includes links to the 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 MSU variety trials, and a link to data from 2012 and prior years. MSU researchers and the Michigan Wheat Program recommend reviewing at least three years of trial research when making decisions for your farm.  

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