“In recent years, wheat breeders, farmers and agronomists have all been putting more emphasis on quality characteristics like protein and milling and baking attributes as new value-added marketing channels emerge. Erker gave the example of Farm Strategy Consultants, a Kansas-based marketing initiative that tests wheat quality at harvest and coordinates delivery to specific end-users in exchange for a premium. Scott Haley [Colorado State University wheat breeder] said the goal of his breeding program is to develop varieties with exceptional yield potential that also have desirable end-use characteristics.
The highlight of the annual wheat tours is walking through the variety trials with Haley as he offers his impressions and evaluations and introduces experimental lines under development at CSU. Attendees also get to take home a copy of CSU’s latest variety trial report to use for future reference.
Langin, Otero and Breck are currently the state’s top performing varieties, but there are lots of options to choose from. A total of 38 varieties, representing public and private breeding programs, were included in this year’s trials. Three hard white varieties — Snowmass, Snowmass 2.0 and Breck — qualify for Ardent Mills’ premium program, which currently starts at 40 cents per bushel. There are also varieties available (and more under development) that feature the new CoAxium herbicide-tolerant trait, funded and licensed by Colorado wheat producers, which is generating considerable interest in the state and beyond as a tool to manage invasive grassy weeds like rye.Rick Novak, director of Colorado seed programs, said he sometimes hears growers complain that they have too many choices, making planting decisions difficult.
CSU’s comprehensive 65-page report is intended to help them navigate the selection process. In addition, growers can go to RamWheatDB.com to compare varieties using CSU’s extensive online database. CSU is also becoming more precise at pinpointing how localized weather conditions impact variety performance. Two years ago a couple of graduate students built weather stations at each of the variety trials, according to Sallie Jones-Diamond, a crops testing research assistant at CSU.”