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Performance of Small Grain Varieties in Kentucky
Research conducted from 2008 to present (as supported by KySGGA)
Total Funding to Date: $106,735
Bill Bruening, University of Kentucky
Kentucky Small Grain Variety Test Results Include Straw
Kentucky Small Grain Variety Performance Test Results are
http://www.uky.edu/Ag/wheatvarietytest/. During the 2012-13
growing season, ninety-nine wheat entries from seed
companies/breeders were evaluated across Kentucky at 7 test
locations. In addition to evaluating wheat varieties for
differences in grain yield potential, the UK wheat variety
trials also evaluate characteristics, such as test weight,
heading date, plant height, winter hardiness, lodging and
disease reaction. Additional specialized single location tests
were conducted to measure wheat and oat varietal differences in
forage biomass yields and post-grain harvest straw yields.
Barley & oat variety grain production performance was also
The University of Kentucky straw variety test was the first
large scale test of its type. Straw research has generally been
considered a labor intense process, due to the time required to
manually cut, collect and weigh straw samples. By teaming up
with UK forage variety testing, a protocol was developed to
efficiently collect and measure straw yields from plots using a
forage research combine, which followed a grain combine at
harvest. This multi-disciplinary research approach combines
expertise from two different research areas and has been a model
for other universities. UK straw data has been an important
component of the Sun Grant Initiative, a national research
project evaluating wheat straw yields and its potential for
cellulosic bioethanol production.
Straw is highly valued in many diverse industries and is an
important secondary commodity for many small grain growers.
Marketing both grain and straw provides growers additional
income from a single crop. Harvesting straw reduces field
residue and facilitates good double-crop soybean stand growth
and development. The time and labor requirements of harvesting
straw may however, delay double-crop soybean planting.
When making wheat variety selections, growers who are harvesting
both grain and straw should select varieties with both high
grain and straw yield potential. Growers producing grain
exclusively may consider selecting varieties with high grain and
low straw yield potential to minimize post harvest field residue
& aid soybean stand establishment. Secondary characteristics
such as maturity and disease resistance are also important in
variety selection. Plant height is often correlated with straw
yield, but this is not always the case. A tall spindly variety
may, for example may have lower straw yield than a shorter,
thick stemmed variety with heavy tillering potential.
When managing wheat for grain and straw production, a fungicide
application is it is recommended along with the standard
management practices for grain production. A fungicide
application near bloom stage will improve the brightness and
quality of straw produced. It is also important to note that
wheat harvested for straw removes organic matter and nutrients,
such as potassium from the soil (approx. 50 lb K2O per acre).
Growers need to factor soil nutrient loss into their economic
decision to harvest straw.
Straw yields vary widely among wheat varieties. In the 2013 UK
wheat straw test, dry matter yields ranged from 0.9 to 2.0 tons
per acre. Straw yields and production profitability can be
dramatically affected by simple variety selection decisions.
Multi-year data on varietal differences in straw yield potential
are presented and recommended for variety selection decisions.
University of Kentucky
UK Small Grain Variety Testing Web Site