The sun was shining as wheat producers gathered at Schieber Farms in Kildare, Oklahoma, many for their first event after a long year of COVID lockdowns. Oklahoma State University’s Kay County Extension Office held the Wheat Field Day last week, providing producers with an overview of current wheat conditions, current OSU experiments and the wheat varieties being grown in the Kildare test plots.
Disease and overall health
OSU professor Bob Hunger kicked off the event with a quick overview on the health of this year’s test plots.
“It’s been a little bit of a different kind of year,” Hunger said. “There was a lot of dry weather in the fall. There were a lot of later planting dates and wheat was slow to come up in some places.”
The team saw some diseases, such as Wheat Leaf Rust, Stripe Rust and powdery mildews, develop last fall.
“Because of that cold weather we had in February, it seemed like that really knocked back the wheat diseases quite a bit,” Hunger said.
While those have slowly come back over time, Hunger said producers should be most concerned about Stripe Rust this year.
“I’ve always talked about keeping an eye on southern Texas and then through Texas,” Hunger said. “It seemed like they had more Stripe Rust developed than Leaf Rust. Sure enough, that's what we've seen the most of in terms of foliar diseases this year. There’s been some powdery mildew, some Leaf Spotters, but Stripe Rust has been the most widespread.”
The cool weather with heavy dews and moisture that much of Oklahoma is experiencing will allow Stripe Rust to continue developing.
“I’ve had a lot of calls about spraying,” Hunger said. “It’s not a bad idea, especially if you have a susceptible or intermediate variety. I think the rust can still have time to come.”
The Kildare test plots host two experimental wheat breeds from OSU.
“We have more experimentals out there, but we don’t have the land to test them,” said Brett Carver, an OSU wheat breeder. “We’re kind of limited. These two are outstanding, and the way they might fit on the market is a little different.”
OK12716W started as part of the experiments that developed OSU Showdown, a hard red winter wheat.
“At the time we bred that line and started testing it, we realized we made a mistake,” Carver said. “We had red and white seed combined in the same line. That happens, but we don’t like to find out so late in the development process. So we had to pick those apart, physically separate the red seed which now we call Showdown.”
OK12716W is the white wheat equivalent to Showdown, with potential to be grown across Oklahoma, Carver said.
“It took us a little longer to get the foundation seed produced in quantities we need so we didn’t release it last year,” Carver said. “I will say last year, this was our leader in our breeding line elite trial. Of all our candidates we’re looking at to release, the 12716W led the pack.”
The second experimental breed, OCW03S580S-8WF, is a soft red winter wheat.
“We’re not normally in the business of breeding soft winter wheat,” Carver said. “However, we do generate a lot of soft wheat progeny in the program. Every now and then we think ‘okay, is there a use for this?’ because we know soft wheat is being grown in Oklahoma and surrounding states.”
Carver said OCW03S580S-8WF has a unique functionality in that it has a soft kernel but bakes like a hard wheat.
“What is that good for?” Carver asked. “It's good for making certain kinds of bread, obviously, but it's also good for making crackers. You need a little bit greater bread-like functionality in a cracker, but you still need that soft endosperm of a soft wheat.”
Typically, mills have to blend a hard winter wheat with a soft winter wheat to get that type of functionality.
“This is a perfect combination of yield and that kind of quality in one variety,” Carver said.
Wheat variety updates
Amanda de Oliveira Silva, an OSU small grains extension specialist, gave attendees an update on the wheat varieties being grown in the Kildare test plots.
Twenty-five varieties were planted last November, including 12 OSU varieties. For more information on the Kildare test plots, or an in-depth look at each variety, visit wheat.okstate.edu.