Collaborator/Funder: Alberta Wheat Commission
Research Program Manager: Dr Akim Omokanye
From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2018 Annual Report
Variety selection plays an important role in wheat yield potential. Regardless of whether a producer intends to seed one cultivar or several on the farm, it is important to start out with a list of several good candidates. The final product of interest is grain yield and therefore, it is crucial to select cultivars that have shown consistent performance in the region. Wheat cultivars differ in their straw strength. No-till producers in the Peace might be looking for tall varieties with good straw production potential to help improve water retention in the soil, so this could also play a role in selecting a cultivar.
In the Peace region, droughts are a recurring feature of the climate and can be expected in any part of the region. While very severe and prolonged droughts are rare, they do occur. Therefore, testing and selecting cultivars with high water use efficiency is essential to helping producers obtain better economic returns. Furthermore, producers need accurate, regional, and current variety information to stay competitive. This project was used as an effective tool for testing some of the common spring hard red wheat cultivars in the Peace Country growing environment.
To assess the grain yield and grain quality of some hard red spring wheat varieties commonly grown in Fairview and surrounding areas.
Project site: The field demonstration was carried out at the Fairview Research Farm on RR#35, MD of Fairview. The site was under alfalfa hay for >10 years before being sprayed out and plowed in the fall of 2017. It was disced and harrowed in 2018 before seeding. The site was a uniform and well-drained field, with no low areas, and no known infestation of quackgrass, Canada thistle or herbicide tolerant weeds. The surface soil characteristics from 0-6” depth and rainfall information for Fairview are provided in Table 1.
Experimental design: Randomized complete block design with four replications.
Treatments: 16 of the common hard red spring wheat cultivars grown in Fairview and area were tested (see Table 2 below). Stettler was used as control.
Seeding rate and seeding date: 350 plants/m2 (32.4 plants/ft2) was used as seeding rate and seeding was done on May 25.
Seeding method: 6-row Fabro plot drill with 9” row spacing. Plot size was 1.15 m x 8 m.
Fertility (actual lbs/acre): 147 N + 43 P + 46 K + 16 S was applied at seeding.
Spraying: Pre-emergent was with glyphosate and in-crop spraying was done once with Curtail M (800 ml/acre) + Fluroxyoyr (170ml/acre).
Data collection: Combine harvesting was done on October 4 with a Wintersteiger plot combine harvester. Grain yield was adjusted to 12% moisture content. Lodging score was taken on plant lodging just before grain harvest. Grain samples for protein content determination were shipped to A&L Laboratory (Ontario).
Data analysis: Field data were subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA) using R statistical software. When ANOVA indicated significant treatment effects, the means were separated by the least significant difference (LSD) at the 0.05 probability level.
Grain yield, test weight (bushel weight) and grain protein content were all statistically different (Table 2).
AAC Brandon had the highest grain yield with about 134 bushels/acre, followed by AAC Crossfield with about 132 bushels/acre and then AAC Tisdale with about 127 bushels/acre. AAC Connery had the least grain yield with 83 bushels/acre. The grain yield advantage from cultivars tested over control (Stettler) was up to 11% (AAC Brandon). AAC Connery, Thorsby, AC Splendor and CDC Bradwell did not result in any grain yield advantage over control.
The bushel test weight was significantly higher for AAC Redwater than all other cultivars (except Shaw VB). Similarly, AAC Redwater had significantly higher grain protein content than other cultivars (except Stettler and AAC Tisdale).
No lodging was recorded for any of the cultivars tested. Stettler, Thorsby and AAC Redwater seemed to be taller than other varieties.
It is important to note that other factors, such as resistance to different diseases, may vary with the cultivars. The degree of resistance to diseases and full grading was not done in this study and those may play a role in varietal selection as well.
Grain yield and grain protein content are some of the objectives in wheat breeding programs, as these traits are important determinants of the economic value of the harvested product. In this study, AAC Brandon, with the highest grain yield, seemed to have lower protein than some cultivars tested. Overall, in terms of grain yield and to a large extent grain protein content, Stettler, AAC Redwater, AAC Tisdale and AAC Brandon seemed to have performed better than other cultivars. Two (AAC Redwater and AAC Brandon) of the top 4 cultivars also showed greater test weight than most cultivars.
This study was funded by the Alberta Wheat Commission. Fertilizer was donated by Nutrien Ag Solutions (formerly known as CPS) in Fairview. Wheat varieties used were sourced from Canterra seeds, FP genetics, Fairview Co-op Seed Cleaning Plants, and from the following producers: Murray Lewis (Cleardale), Ron Heck (Fairview) and Nick Sekulic (Prestville Farms Ltd., Rycroft). The technical help by PCBFA staff and summer students, Thomas Claydon (PCBFA director), Allan McLachlan (PCBFA director), and GPRC farm (Fairview campus) is highly appreciated.