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Farmers hear about new wheat varieties

June 23, 2008
By Vicki Johnson,
CUSTAR — Northwest Ohio farmers learned three new wheat varieties are being released by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center during a wheat field day Thursday at OARDC’s Northwest Agricultural Research Station.

The field day, called “New Tools for Your Management Toolbox,” is planned every few years to provide producers with information to help them better manage their wheat crop.

“Wheat has become a more valuable crop,” said Matt Davis, manager of the research station. “We’re trying to hit the whole production cycle this year. Wheat has always been a viable third crop in northwest Ohio. And the prices haven’t hurt.”

OARDC and Ohio State University Extension — the research and outreach arms of Ohio State’s college of food, agricultural and environmental sciences — sponsored the educational event. OSU experts talked about topics ranging from insect control and diseases to alternative growth and fertility strategies.

“This has been sort of a challenging year,” Davis said to start the program, referring to the wet spring that caused a late start to corn and soybean planting on the farm’s 160 acres. The farm received 20.6 inches of rain so far this year — including 4.2 inches in May — significantly more than the 14.8-inch average.

In a presentation called “Wheat Breeding: New OSU Cultivars and Objectives,” Clay Sneller of OARDC’s department of horticulture and crop science said his department is releasing three new varieties this year. He said the three releases are important because there are no releases in most years.

Breeding wheat is difficult, he said, because there are so many traits producers want, a few of which are high quality, disease resistance and high yield.

“We in northwest Ohio are known for producing high-quality soft winter wheat,” Sneller said.

Two of the three new varieties are called Bromfield and Malabar, named after conservation pioneer Louis Bromfield and his Malabar Farm, which is now a state farm park near Mansfield. The third is being released to be privately branded.

Before releasing a variety, Sneller said he tests for yield for four or five years.

“Only about 2 percent of my varieties get the yield you really want,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. We have to have the yield.”

Milling quality and scab resistance often don’t fit together, said Ed Souza of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, Wooster, as he moved into his portion of the program called “Wheat Quality from 2007 OSU State Trials.”

“The lab does research on what are the genes that really make good quality,” he said. Genetic analysis helps researchers look for those traits.

Souza said companies such as Kraft Nabisco are looking for certain qualities in wheat that make good crackers and cookies. There are other considerations, such as how much water is needed in the production process.

He invited producers to view harvest data after the wheat harvest by using a search engine to find “soft winter wheat qaulity lab” and clicking on the “news” button.

The other three parts of the program were dedicated to testing results of specific varieties for various problems.

Pierce Paul of OARDC’s Department of Plant Pathology and OSU Extension, said timing is key in his presentation, “Managing Head Scab with Fungicide.”

“If you don’t apply it at the right time, you won’t get the results,” he said. “You got to be vigilant.”

The best time for scab control is while wheat plants are flowering. Flowering is happening when fresh anthers can be see sticking out of florets.

Even then, he said fungicides are only 50 percent effective.

“The best way to manage head scab is with an integrated approach,” he said, which includes using both a resistant variety of wheat and fungicide applied at the optimal time.

“If you see head scab, it’s too late,” he said. “That’s why the risk tool is a good guide.”

The risk tool can be found at

Ed Lentz of OARDC and OSU Extension, who is also the Extension educator in Seneca County, talked about “Wheat Fertility Management and Double-crop Soybean Production.”

He said he has been conducting a nitrogen rate study at the farm since 1997. He showed participants the differences in various nitrogen rate applications and their effects on growing wheat.

He recommended skipping fall nitrogen application for wheat and putting it on in the spring.

The new time-released forms of nitrogen are included in the study.

“These slow-release products are going to have a place down the road,” he said.

Ron Hammond of OARDC’s Department of Entomology discussed “Revisiting Insect Pests on Wheat,” mainly the army worm which has been a problem this year.

He gave recommendations for handling army worm in the future, but said it’s too late this season for much more damage to be done. After the plant no longer needs the leaves, the worm is no longer much of a problem.

“You have to hit them before they strip the leaves off the plant,” he said. “This is the first year in a while we really had so much damage.”

Hammond said producers should watch for pest moving into corn, but soybeans aren’t a host.

“We do have another generation of them coming,” he said. But it won’t affect farmers so much as turf grass and other types of grasses.

He recommended reading OSU’s CORN newsletter for the latest updates on pests to watch for.

The Northwest station is one of 10 OARDC outlying agricultural research stations located around Ohio. The stations conduct research critical to their home regions in areas such as field crops, livestock production, wine-grape production, natural resource management and fruits and vegetables.

Davis reminded producers Field Crops Day is scheduled at the Hoytville research center 9-11:30 a.m. July 24.

For more information, call (419) 257-2060, e-mail,

or visit

Article Photos

Ed Lentz, Seneca County’s OSU Extension educator, points out part of his nitrogen rate study on wheat during a wheat field day Thursday at Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s Northwest Agricultural Research Station.



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