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Results of AgriLife trials could boost wheat as a statewide crop for Texas

field of wheat

Photo: AgriLife Today

Researchers at Texas A&M AgriLife are hoping to grow greater interest in having agricultural producers plant wheat in some of the more “non-traditional” areas of the state for that particular crop.

While wheat is the biggest field crop in Texas in terms of acreage — estimated at about 6 million acres annually by the National Agricultural Statistics Service — it is currently grown mostly in the High Plains and Rolling Plains part of the state.

Amir Ibrahim, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research wheat breeder in College Station, said that Texas A&M AgriLife spring wheat breeding efforts have been revamped to address the needs of South Texas, as well as the Winter Garden area west of San Antonio.

He said investigating genetics, along with environmental and crop management-related factors, provides a holistic approach to cropping system management for water conservation and how to cope with environmental stresses. Producing drought-tolerant crops, along with developing better irrigation technology and practices, is key for producers in the Winter Garden region.

To determine which wheat varieties will fare best in different parts of the state, AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension faculty and staff have been conducting the multi-year Uniform Wheat Variety Trial. Wheat market classes within these trials include hard red winter wheat, soft red winter wheat and hard red spring wheat.

“Typically, there are approximately 30 wheat variety trials conducted across the state each year, and most of these reflect data from multiple years of trials,” said Clark Neely, AgriLife Extension small grains and oilseed specialist, College Station. “The results of these uniform trials provide unbiased yield data and disease and insect ratings for wheat producers across the state.”

Using this information, Texas wheat producers can make an educated decision concerning the most appropriate varieties for their geographic region, Neely said.