Pronghorn wheat ‘bucks’ variety trend — for now
Buckskin, the most planted winter wheat variety in Wyoming for three decades, was bucked off the winner’s podium in 2014 by Pronghorn.
Pronghorn accounted for 25.8% of the 160,000 acres planted in 2014, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service office in Wyoming.
Buckskin, which has declined steadily in Wyoming for several years, came in second at 20.6%, while Goodstreak was a distant third at 4.8%.
Three varieties made the list for the first time: WB-Grainfield, Cowboy and T158.
Pronghorn endurance on top will be tested over the next several years as many varieties are outperforming Pronghorn in yield. Among them is the recently released Cowboy variety, which has topped a number of on-farm trials in eastern Wyoming conducted by the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station.
Three southeast Wyoming operations (the Theron Anderson farm, Prairie Farms and Mattson Ranch) and two western Nebraska farms (Kriesel Certified Seed and D&S Hansen Farms Seed) are now selling Cowboy seed commercially.
Testing on Cowboy began in 2010 and continues. Results are on the University of Wyoming’s Crop Variety Trials Directory at www.uwyo.edu/plantsciences/uwplant/trials.html.
Trial results for Cowboy are listed by its experimental line number CO050322 for 2010 and 2011 since the variety hadn’t yet received a name.
Cowboy was co-released by Colorado State University and the University of Wyoming in 2011.
Sales keep research going
Royalties from seed sales are split by the Crop Research Foundation of Wyoming and Colorado Wheat Research Foundation, both of which use the majority of proceeds for continued research.
Pronghorn, which was released in 1996, was under test in Wyoming from the 1990s through 2012. Testing was discontinued last year because of the many new varieties coming on board, says Jerry Nachtman, Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station research associate.
“We’re mainly focusing on promoting Cowboy right now, getting it out there to producers, but there are other varieties that are testing very well.”
Among them are several sisters of Cowboy, but those haven’t yet been registered. Like Cowboy, their experimental line numbers start with CO (short for Colorado) in the online UW wheat trial results.
Keith Kennedy, executive director of the Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission, says growers will have to pay attention to nitrogen fertilization to keep protein levels up in the higher-yielding varieties like Cowboy.
“You may have to put on more nitrogen in the fall with a topdress in the spring, so soil testing every year can be a pretty cheap investment,” Kennedy says.
This article published in the July, 2014 edition of WESTERN FARMER-STOCKMAN.
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